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Now&Then 64 - October 2013

In this issue: Open Day success; all the latest online news (including additions to our indexes and new photos); treasures found in the records; spotlight on the registers of bodies received; our blog and Flickr updates and more!

Online News

More digital convict indents available

Sentenced Beyond the Seas image example - Speedy 1800

Many more images have been added to the early convict database: Sentenced beyond the Seas - a project to digitise and index Australia's earliest convict records.

The convict indents list the convicts transported to New South Wales. Search over 12,000 names listed in these records and view the digital indents online.

Digital galleries


Through the lens: snapshots of government architecture" was created as part of History Week 2013. It consists of two digital galleries focusing on Central Railway Station and Darling Harbour in Sydney.
Central Railway Station - highlighting its transformation from the opening in 1855 to 1921 when the clocktower was completed

View Gallery

Darling Harbour - highlighting early Darling Harbour through to land resumptions

View Gallery
Darling Harbour

New South Wales Prepares for War

Browse a selection of records relating to New South Wales' involvement in World War II. This gallery focuses on the National Emergency Services (NES) which helped to protect, educate and provide aid on the home front.

View Gallery
War and Australia: NSW Prepares for War

New images on Photo Investigator

Browse through several new series of photos.

1. Photo albums relating to Northern Territory road works [Dept of Main Roads], NRS 20012

Miscellaneous defence construction work in the Northern Territory during World War II.Construction was undertaken by the NSW government on behalf of the Commonwealth government and took place over four time periods: September to December 1940, June to December 1941, May to November 1942 and in 1943 to 1944. The photographs record the construction of roads, bridges, airfields and a water supply for one airfield.

2. Photo albums relating to the construction of an aerodrome on Norfolk Island [Dept of Main Roads], NRS 20013

Construction of the aerodrome on Norfolk Island during World War II. Construction was undertaken by the NSW government for the United States Army Air Force and took place between August 1942 and February 1943 in association with the United States Engineers Department, United States Army.

3. Photos of metropolitan, country roads ferries etc., and miscellaneous operations, NSW 1926-1946, NRS 20224

Construction and maintenance of roads in New South Wales.Some of the roads depicted in the photos include Liverpool Road, Forest Road, New South Head Road, Parramatta Road, Princes Highway, Great Western Highway, Victoria Road, Illawarra Road, General Holmes Drive, Botany Road, Lane Cove Road and the Federal Highway. In addition to road construction among the photographs there are a number of images showing, vehicular ferries, sign-posting, metropolitan roads, testing laboratory (Head Office) and the Razorback deviation.

Open Day Success

What a success the Open Day was this year! Weather conditions for the day (Friday 30 August) proved to be perfect so we had crowds in the hundreds flood in to hear talks, check out the transport displays and even pick up a bargain at the book stall. The theme of the day was Transport, Travel & Tourism and the program was packed with speakers, tours, advice on conservation and digital recordkeeping, plus a display of treasures from our collection.

The history and genealogy stalls were very popular, as were the vintage military vehicles, food and coffee (the important stuff!) and the second-hand book sale.

Open day 2013 tour

Open Day 2013 - Conservation

Open Day 2013 - truck

Open Day train model

Open Day - model

Open day - model close up

Open Day - check in

Open Day - Janette presenting

Open day -crowds

Exciting new range of greeting cards!

Capture the romance of travel and the holidays with this special range of greetings cards from the State archives collection. Perfect gifts this Christmas for family and friends or for that family historian and train buff you may know.

Special offer! Spend $20.00 or more on greeting cards and receive a free enviro bag. Offer valid till Friday 13 December 2013 (or until stocks last).

Set of six Christmas cards - $10.00

Christmas cards - set of 6

Set of four holiday-themed cards - $6.00

Greeting cards - set of 4

Enviro bag - RRP $2.00

Enviro bags - Open Day 2013

Review of State Records’ Appraisal policy and objectives for the identification of State archives

State Records'  policy on records appraisal and the identification of State archives Building the archives is now over 10 years old. It is therefore timely to review the policy document to assess if it is appropriate for guiding appraisal in the digital environment, to update it and amend the policy as required. The aim of the policy is to state fundamental objectives to guide the identification of State archives and to establish a framework for the conduct of records appraisal in the NSW public sector. To do this the current policy document:

  • outlines the roles and responsibilities of the three key participants involved in the appraisal of State records (i.e. public offices, State Records and the Board of State Records)
  • outlines 5 objectives to assist and guide the appraisal decision-making process with respect to the identification of State archives.

Not all Government records can be retained, preserved and made accessible indefinitely as State archives. Decisions have to be made about what to keep and what not to keep as part of the NSW State Government’s archival record of its authority, functions, decision-making processes, and outcomes of its activities. The policy is therefore a key document in assisting this process.

To assist the policy review process, State Records is seeking input and comments from members of the community on the policy. A copy of the current version of the policy is available on our website. Your thoughts and views on the content of the policy and the objectives for the identification of State archives would be much appreciated. In particular, when providing feedback, you may like to the consider:

  • do the objectives assist you in understanding what records of government will be retained as part of the State archives collection
  • do you recommend inclusion of any additional objectives or amendment to the current ones
  • if there are any additional factors or considerations impacting on records appraisal and the identification of State archives that you think should be addressed by the policy.

Comments can be sent to Peri Stewart (email: If you have any queries please feel free to contact Peri on 02 8257 2988. Deadline for comments is Friday 1st November.

Treasures found in the records

The volunteers while doing their indexing projects are constantly coming across interesting finds within the archives. One of the volunteer projects at the moment is the indexing of the Intestate Estate Papers (NRS 13538). These papers relate to those persons who died intestate and comprise the following: amounts of money owed by the deceased; amounts of money paid from the estate to the individual creditors; petitions from the Curator of Intestate Estates to the Supreme Court relating to the administration of the deceased's estate; orders to collect; affidavits of death; circulars from shareholders (if applicable); newspaper cuttings and in some cases personal correspondence.

John Jones came across this very unusual Intestate file (NRS 13538) for a De Renzie Wilson a Squatter who died on 19 October 1908. The file for De Renzie Wilson contains various legal correspondence; a letter from a cousin to the Curator of Intestate Estates wanting to take possession of the estate; another letter from a relative to the Curator stating they noticed the announcement in the papers and would like to know the value of the estate; Central Auction Rooms 274 Pitt Street receipt for the Estate of De Renzie Wilson; Church of England Cemetery card listing the Section T and number where buried (number 3555) in Rookwood Cemetery; further correspondence relating to the estate including a list of possessions. What is unusual is that within the file there is an envelop which includes 4 locks of hair and a few tiny pieces of paper one with a illustration of a bird - Christmas greetings (with the year 1868 written in pencil on the back). Who did the locks of hair belong to? Why were they in De Renzie Wilson's possession? They obviously meant something to him. One of the locks of hair is folded up in a small piece of paper with 'A token of friendship' written on the outside. Unfortunately the file does not explain why these items are included and so, the mystery remains.

The Intestate Estate files sometimes (not always) contain personal correspondence which can provide great insight into the individual. The files really do vary in sizeand contents  which is why we do not offer an online copy service.

Intestate Estate Paper - De Renzie Wilson [10/27796 536/08]

Intestate de Renzie Wilson - 3 locks of hair

Intestate de Renzie Wilson - letter

Archives Outside blog update

Can you name...this road?

A spin on the ol' Can you date? series. We have a new series of photo albums from the Department of Main Roads available online - “Photographs of metropolitan, country roads ferries etc., and miscellaneous operations, New South Wales”. The albums contain photos showing the construction and maintenance of roads in NSW between 1926 and 1946. While most of the photographs have been well titled and dated. There are a few that have no information about the location photographed.

Digital Imagery as a Tool for Historical Research

William Oates from the University of New England Heritage Centre...recently gave a talk on using digital images as a tool for historical research. It is a wide ranging talk using some great images as examples.

Crying in the Archives

It is all too easy to see archives as just ink and paper, to count them as statistics... But Curthoys and McGrath remind us that archives effect present lives because they are evidence of past lives.

Gone but not forgotten

During World War II the NSW Department of Main Roads built defence works for the Commonwealth government in the Northern Territory and Queensland and for the United States Army on Norfolk Island. It compiled photographs taken by its employees in albums, neatly labelling them...They record the construction methods and equipment, the working conditions and the effects of heavy rains on the work, as well as including picturesque touristy shots.

Moments in Time

Can you date...?

Fire engine
Darling Harbour

Flickr update

The latest additions include:

Botany and Henderson Roads
Corner Botany and Henderson Roads
Unknown road - can you help?
Unknown stretch of road
Parramatta Rd - tar spraying
Tar spraying Parramatta Road Near Fields Corner [Ashfield, NSW]
Adastra Airways
Adastra Airways (Aerial Survey)
Goat Island
Northeast side of Goat Island showing convict-built Water Police Station overlooking wharves.
Unknown Pharmacist
Photograph of unknown Pharmacist

If you don't have a Flickr account you can still browse these photos on Flickr, many of which are also available on Photo Investigator.

Spotlight on the Registers of bodies received [Sydney City Coroner]

As many of you would know it can be difficult trying to locate details relating to an inquest or death for the time period 1825-1940, many of the files haven't survived. If you do run into this research 'brick wall' and the death occurred in Sydney then try the series Registers of bodies received (NRS 1788).This under utilised resource can provide you with interesting and valuable information.

The Registers cover the time period 1908-1965. Each entry appears to be filled in by the person (usually a policeman) depositing the body and lists the entry number and date, name, sex, age, where born and occupation, when and where found, remarks giving full personal description (in cases which bodies have not been identified), and a statement of all wounds or injuries appearing thereon. Signed by the person depositing the body.

Example 1Example 2

NRS 1788 - Registers of bodies received example
NRS 1788 Registers of bodies received - Sydney City Coroner [3/2230]

NRS 1788 - register entry
NRS 1788 Registers of bodies received - Sydney City Coroner [3/2230]

Deceased: William Holten

Number and date: Entry 493 no. 93, 10 December 1919 8:15am

Age, where born, occupation: About 60 years, Birmingham England, Carpenter

When and where found: 7:50am 10 Dec 1919 at No 410 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Remarks and statement of all wounds or injuries appearing thereon: About 7am deceased who occupied a room at 410 Bourke Street, Surry Hills with a man named William Henry Blackburn was lying on his bed when he informed Blackburn (who's wife had been away from him for several years) that Mrs Blackburn was living at Moss Vale. Blackburn states he replied "a man ought to kill you for not telling him before." Blackburn then drew a revolver and shot deceased as he was getting up from his bed. Deceased started to go down the stairs when Blackburn shot him again. He was conveyed to Sydney Hospital where life was pronounced extinct. The body was then taken to the city morgue. No property found on the body.

Signed W.E. Sherringham Constable No.3 Police Station Sydney

Deceased: Margaret Homer

Number and date: Entry 423 no. 23, 17 October 1919 4:55pm

Age, where born, occupation: 48 years, King George Sound, Pacific Island Western Australia, Married

When and where found: 4:20pm 17 October 1919 at No. 651 King Street Newtown

Remarks and statement of all wounds or injuries appearing thereon: Deceased has been in ill health for the past 5 years. And was treated at the Waterfall Hospital for about 12 months for Tuberculosis and has been living for the past twelve months with her husband at No. 651 King Street Newtown and has been taken medicine from a Chemist. On Tuesday last she had some ice cream and after partaking it she complained of pains in the chest. On Wednesday about 10am she complained of feeling ill and went to bed again. She remained in bed today (Friday) and her husband sent for Dr Clelland and on his arrival pronounced life extinct. There are no signs of violence on the body which was removed to this morgue by order of the City Coroner. No property found on the body.

Signed James Moran No.5 Newtown Station

From about 1920 photographs of the body are sometimes included in the volumes when the identity is unknown. This practice stopped in 1926. From 7 September 1951 a change in format occurs with the expansion of remarks to include data on the circumstances under which death took place, particulars of property found on deceased and how disposed. The person who received the body for the undertaker and date the transfer from the Morgue took place is also noted. Miscellaneous property receipts are sometimes included with entries or at the back of the register. In addition an alphabetical index to bodies is located at the beginning of each register. To check what dates are covered in each register see the item list.

Another related series is NRS 1789 Post Mortem Registers [Sydney Coroner] 1908-56. Under each entry, the registers give information under the following headings: date of death, date of autopsy, name of doctor making autopsy, name of medical attendant of deceased if known, name of deceased, birthplace, age and occupation, previous history and habits of deceased, circumstances connected with the death of deceased, special remarks, external description, result of post mortem (cranium, thorax, abdomen), cause of death, signature of doctor making the examination, and date. From about 1904 a different form was used showing information under the following headings: result of examination, name, age, occupation, date of autopsy, date of death, where born, circumstances connected with death, marks of identification, evidence of violence, rigor mortis, P.M. lividity, stage of decomposition. Then information under the main headings "Thorax, abdomen, head" is further subdivided in detail by the various organs of the body. Each entry is signed and dated by the pathologist.

The both series of registers are original and can be accessed at the Western Sydney Records Centre.

Changes to train and bus timetables

Sydney public transport timetables are changing during October 2013. If you travel to the Western Sydney Records Centre (WSRC) in Kingswood via public transport you can check your travel times via NSW TransportInfo.

Please note that train timetables change from Sunday 20 October 2013, but the 770 Penrith-Mt Druitt buses, which take you to the entrance of WSRC, will change from Monday 6 October 2013. From this date the 770 service will change hands from Westbus to Busways and the buses may be white and blue rather than yellow. Paper copies of the 770 bus timetable are available from the reading room.

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Upcoming Talks and Tours

Introduction to State Records' resources

Gail Davis will be presenting this session to members of the Royal Australian Historical Society attending the Annual State History Conference. Gail will be discussing the resources available at State Records NSW for a variety of research purposes. She will also be discussing online resources. Participants will then be given a tour of the Western Sydney Records Centre.
1 November 11:00am-1:00pm
Western Sydney Records Centre, 143 O'Connell Street Kingswood NSW 2747
Email: Royal Australian Historical Society
Phone: (02) 9247 8001

What's not online

Many people nowadays think that everything is online. This talk will look at the many types of records for family history which are not digitally available. Central Coast Family History Society. Gail Davis will present as part of an all day seminar.
2 November 10:00am-4:00pm
Lions Hall East Gosford 
Contact: Marlene Davison

Researching pre-1856 land records

A representative from State Records will be speaking at the Society of Australian Genealogists' annual Lost In...seminar. This year the theme of the seminar is Lost in early NSW and will be hosted in Port Macquarie.
2-3 November 9:00am-4:00pm
Port Macquarie

Locating a individual by place

Presented by Gail Davis
6 November 10:30am-12:30pm
Tuggerah Library Westfield Shopping Town Tuggerah
Contact: Michelle Goldsmith
Phone: (02) 4350 1560

Introducing State Records NSW

One or our Public Access team members will be presenting an introductory session to volunteers of the Australian Railway Historical Society about State Records NSW. We will also be discussing records from the State Rail Authority collection held as NSW State archives. 
11 November 10:00am-12:00pm
Western Sydney Records Centre, 143 O'Connell Street Kingswood NSW 2747