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Now&Then 57 - August 2012

In this Issue: read the latest online news; the closure of the Rocks reading room Friday 29 June; Treasures found in the records; the Spotlight on Divorce records; our Blog and Flickr updates and more!

Online News

More probate and divorce records arriving

The Supreme Court NSW is regularly transferring probate packets (NRS 13660) and divorce records (NRS 13495) to State Records. As they arrive we adding the lists to Archives Investigator (AI). We now have over half a million probate packets listed!  The most recent transfer is Probate Packet Series 4, Probate No. 705057 (Jan 1971). To locate a probate conduct a simple search in AI adding the name of the person and the word 'death' in the title.

There are now have over 80 000 divorce files listed dating up to 1951. To see if we hold a divorce file, again just use the simple search option in AI  and type in the words 'Divorce' and surname of the petitioner or respondent.

Research Topics page - an A-Z list to help you into our collection

We have developed a popular 'Research Topics' page in order to make it quicker and easier for you to locate information on  a specific topic. Currently listing 16 broad subjects this page is an ongoing project. The webpage is easy to navigate with an A-Z listing of  topics.

Research Topics is available on our homepage (under Quick Links).

Screenshot - Research Topics page

City (The Rocks) reading room closed on 29 June

The city reading room closed it's doors for the last time on Friday 29 June.

Excerpt from State Records NSW 1788-2011 by the late Peter J. Tyler

At the end of 1978, the Archives Authority moved from the State Library into its purpose-built six storey building at The Rocks. When the city search room opened, the Archives Office for the first time had its own reading room and exhibition area. Location of the building was appropriate for housing the official records of early Australia, as it was very close to the place where Captain Arthur Phillip raised the Union Jack to mark the beginning of the colony of New South Wales on 26 January 1788. From the beginning, the Archives Office had gained a reputation for focussing on the needs of researchers, as shown in the preparation of the various Guides to the early records. It was a practice that contrasted with attitudes that were said to prevail in other archival institutions at this time, where public access was often resented rather than facilitated.

Lindsay Allen and Fabian Lo Schiavo closing the door of the City reading room on the 29 June 2012

Lindsay Allen (left) and Fabian Lo Schiavo closing the door of the City Reading Room for the last time on Friday 29 June 2012.

The City (The Rocks) reading room was a home away from home for many researchers over the years. We hope that this transition and adjustment period will continue to go smoothly and we feel confident that this new phase of State Records history will be as exciting, challenging and adventurous as the previous years.

In the tradition of providing a solid public access service, the reading room staff at the Western Sydney Records Centre at Kingswood will continue to provide expert and professional advice to researchers accessing NSW State archives in person and over the telephone. We also provide a copy service from many of our online indexes and for divorce and probate records through Archives Investigator.

Much of the microfilmed material previously available at the Rocks reading room is  being relocated to various libraries and societies in the metropolitan area and regional centres,  including the State Library of New South Wales, the City of Sydney Archives and the Royal Historical Society. The National Archives of Australia, Passenger lists inwards - Sydney, Jan 1923-Dec 1966 on microfilm reel are now accessible at Kingswood.

Fabian Lo Schiavo one of our Public Access Archivists is on a temporary placement at the NSW State Library (2 July - 31 August) to train the Library staff in the copied records that have been relocated from the city reading room, and also to assist with enquiries relating to the State Records collection.

0.4% surcharge on credit card payments

Effective from 1 July 2012, a credit card processing fee surcharge of 0.4% applies to all credit card transactions, including in the reading room, orders received by mail and online copy orders. The surcharge is a directive from NSW Treasury and applies to  all State government agencies.

Treasures found in the records

The volunteers in the reading room work tirelessly on indexing records in State archives collection. Often they come across gems and unusual items whilst working on an indexing project. We would like to share an interesting discovery made by Beverley Malone. Recently Beverley who is working as part of a team of volunteers indexing the large series (237 boxes) of Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area - MIA files (NRS 14511) came across information relating to a particular school - Leeton Public School.  Within the bundle [17/469 file number 12/1027/183] Beverley found a census of children in the area resident in camps dated 1912 and correspondence relating to the establishment of the school including plans - valuable information for the local or family historian. The great thing about this discovery is that we don't seem to have admission registers (which list pupil names) for Leeton School in our main School holdings. Well done Beverley!

Also to be found in the MIA files are a number of gorgeous advertising fruit labels:

NRS 14511 [17/524, file 15/4509]

NRS14511 [17/524, file 15/4509]

Apart from the fruit labels to be found in the series the volunteers have also found other interesting items including: a sample of butter wrappers [17/513 file16/5143], a brochure for a steam wagon [17/585, file 22/3651], a sample of a cap worn by women in the cannery [17/633]  and pamphlets issued by the Immigration Section of the Department of Labour and Industry advertising New South Wales as  the 'most attractive outpost of the Empire' -  includes a visitor's guide to Sydney [17/563 file 20/6032] - to name a few.

You never know what you might find when researching in the State archives!

Digital Archives milestone - completion of design and implementation

Digital Archives ICT server room with fully operational hardware installedWork has recently been completed on the implementation of the ICT (Information Communications Technology) platform for the Digital Archives project. This is an important milestone in the project and represents a considerable investment by State Records NSW in the development of the new Digital State Archives infrastructure for NSW. 

This ICT solution consists of integrated server, storage and virtualisation technologies and is the platform upon which the Digital Archives system will operate. The solution, procured through tender has been installed in the purpose built Digital Archives server room at Kingswood. The server room has been purpose built to provide a secure, closed and clean environment for the installed ICT equipment. Redundant air-conditioning units ensure that the temperature and humidity for the space is maintained at optimal levels and fire protection is provided by a local argonite fire suppression system. The ICT equipment has been installed in three equipment racks and power is supplied by a redundant APC UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) system. The ICT solution itself comprises integrated server, storage and virtualisation technologies that provide capacity growth and expansion of the digital archives into the future. At present its capacity is about 24 Terabytes - or enough storage to keep over 3000 copies of the whole of Wikipedia!

The team has also been working on the software, tools and procedures for accepting, preserving and making available 'born digital' government records as archives, and for helping government agencies with a range of digital continuity challenges. They will be working on pilot projects with the NSW Government agencies in the coming months.

Managing local collections - Useful resources

In partnership with the Royal Australian Historical Society, we will be holding a series of free workshops on Managing Local Collections in regional NSW between July and December 2012.

A pilot workshop was conducted in mid-June and covered: storage; developing collection policies; arranging and describing collections; conservation and preservation; databases; digitisation and access policies.

Sample documents

Feedback from the Evaluation Sheets asked for copies of sample forms and documents used in the pilot workshop.

Check the Activities program for a dates and locations of the workshops.

History Council Event - History and Australia a foundational past?

Presented by the History Council of NSW. In this lecture, Mark McKenna will explore the direction of his new work. Refreshments included.
When Aug 08, 2012 
Where The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street, Sydney
Contact Name
Contact Phone 92528715
Add event to calendar vCal

History and Australia: a foundational past?

Craving historical tradition, longing for a deeply rooted past, and uncertain of the place of Aboriginal Australia within both its past and present, Australia has long struggled to reconcile its colonial history with an increasingly confident, optimistic and patriotic self image. The rise of Anzac Day as a focal point of national communion in recent decades has occurred at the same time as fiercely contested public debates over frontier history and the stolen generations. In this lecture Mark McKenna asks whether the anxiety over Australia’s search for a foundational history has finally come to an end.

Cost: $50.00
Concession: $45.00

More information about this event…

Archives Outside blog update

After three years online we’ve had a facelift. You’ll find we look a bit different, we have a new tagline and there are more ‘social web’ icons to be found but the same good content is still there.

Archives Outside banner

Like, for instance, Tips for Reading Old Handwriting

Social Media Strategy

Also, we now have a social media strategy for what we do, how we do it and for setting our goals. *And* it's only 60 seconds long.

View our social media strategy on Flickr
Social media strategy

Moments in Time – Can you date this photo?

The latest batch are all Sydney-based:

International Archives Day

Celebrated every year on 9 June we marked the occasion with a collaborative post with our Future Proof bloggers.

Our top 5 – Why Archives Are Awesome

Screenshot from the Archives Outside Blog

was complemented by the Future Proof post - Our Top 5 – Why recordkeeping in Awesome.

Posts included Should I post this update? - handy info for public servants. More interesting archival-related links can be found on the June Link post

Flickr update

These are some of the latest additions (note that some of the paintings have been identified in the Adelaide Art Gallery by one of our Flickr friends):

Cleansing the streets - Plague
Cleansing the streets
Batlow Soldier Settlement
Batlow Soldiers' Settlement Estate - clearing land
Adelaide Art galley
Adelaide Art Gallery - interior
Spectators in Cennential Park
Spectators on the northern slope in Cennential Park celebrating the visit of the US Navy's 'Great White Fleet'
Mobile Buffet Service (Central Station)
Central Railway Station, Sydney - mobile buffet service
Staff during 1917 Railway strike
Railway staff enjoying reading and recreation time during the 1917 strike

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 Divorce records

Many of you may have read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday 1 July featuring Divorce records held as State archives. With the progressive transfer of divorce files from the NSW Supreme Court there has been an influx of enquiries and interest in this series of records. To date we hold over 80 000 divorce case papers and this will continue to increase. The files are a great source of information for the family historian - providing extra details which may not have been discussed or known within the family.  Official records can often give a more impartial account than a family story. Researchers have been known to locate marriage certificates, handwritten letters and occasionally photographs in the files.

An example from the records:

NRS 2496 [3/6007 photo 659]

The notorious Matilda (Tilly) Divine nee Twiss - known as the ‘Queen of Woolloomooloo’ met James (Jim) Devine in 1916 and they married in 1917.

After years of physical abuse Tilly filed for divorce from Jim in 1942. Their opposite personalities and hedonistic lifestyle took a toll on their relationship. The divorce case papers for Tilly and Jim Devine [NRS13495, item 2743/1942]  include a certified copy of the marriage certificate. See part below:

NRS 13495 Divorce papers Matilda Mary Devine - James Edward Joseph Devine, 2743/1942

Part of the marriage certificate James (Jim) Edward Joseph Devine & Matilda (Tilly) Twiss 1917 [NRS13495, item 2743/1942]

Some of the divorce files may include photographs and letters.

The divorce case of Jules and Sybil Busch includes a wonderful photograph [NRS 13495, Item 3438/1944].

Please note that not every divorce file contains a photograph.

NRS 13495 Divorce papers Jules Adolph Busch - Sybil Irene Clare Busch, Albert James Halls [Photo] 3438/1944

[NRS 13495, Item 3438/1944]

Searching for a reference

To locate a divorce file conduct a Simple search in Archives Investigator with the surname and the word 'divorce' in the title field. If you locate a relevant divorce reference you have the option to either preorder the record to view in person in the reading room or purchase a photocopy.

For further information relating to divorce records see Archives in Brief 77.

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In Living Memory logo

The In Living Memory exhibition of photographs at State Records Gallery in The Rocks came to a close on Thursday 28 June 2012.

A suitcase version of the exhibition will be on display from 6pm, 10 August until 3pm, 14 August 2012 at Cootamundra Arts Centre to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Cootamundra Girls' Home.

The NSW touring version of the exhibition will be on display from 4-27 September at Fountain Court Gallery, Parliament of NSW.

For any enquiries please ring Rhonda Campbell ph: 9673 1788


About the Exhibition18 venue tour of NSW

Upcoming Talks and Tours

Using deaths, probate and coroner's records in your family history

Tips and tactics on using death, probate and coroner's records when conducting your family history research. Gail Davis will present.
1 August 10:30am-12:30pm
Tuggerah Library Westfield Shopping Town, Tuggerah
Contact: Michelle Goldsmith
Phone: (02) 4350 1560

Getting to know State Records' new catalogue search and Searching the NSW State archives on Ancestry

Gail Davis will present:

  • Getting to know State Records' new catalogue search - This presentation will look at the new search tool that has been developed to make it easier for you to search State Records' online catalogue
  • Searching the NSW State archives on Ancestry - This presentation will look at ways of making the best use of the extensive resources such as arrival, convict, ticket of leave or land grants held in the NSW State archives collection, that are currently available on Ancestry.

3 August 10:30am-12:30pm
Wollongong City Library
Contact: Eileen Smith
Phone: (02) 4227 7693

Society of Australian Genealogists 80th Anniversary Seminar

This event is for Society of Australian Genealogists members only. It is fully booked.
4 August 10:00am-4:00pm
Western Sydney Records Centre, 143 O'Connell Street Kingswood
Contact: Heather Garnsey
Phone: (02) 9247 3953

History Council Event - History and Australia, a foundational past?

Presented by the History Council of NSW. In this lecture, Mark McKenna will explore the direction of his new work. Refreshments included.
8 August 6:00pm-8:00pm
The Mint, 10 Macquarie Street Sydney
Contact: Kate Laing 
(02) 92528715
Cost: $50.00, Concession: $45.00 
Refreshments included

Managing local collections workshop

In partnership with the Royal Australian Historical Society, we will be holding a series of free workshops on Managing Local Collections in regional NSW between July and December 2012. 
8 August 10:30am-1:30pm
799 Pacific Hwy, Gordon, NSW 2072
Contact email:
Phone: (02) 9499 4568

Changes at State Records

Gail Davis will present this session which will look at what's new at State Records.
21 August 1:30pm-3:30pm
Bankstown Library
Contact: Fred Gentle

Introduction to State Records NSW

Lindsay Allen will speak about making the best use of State Records' online and reading room resources (including guides, finding aids, indexes and digital copies of records) for family and local history research.
22 August 10:30am-12:30pm
Richmond Villa, 120 Kent Street, Sydney
Contact: SAG
Phone: (02) 9247 3953

Managing local collections workshop

In partnership with the Royal Australian Historical Society, we will be holding a series of free workshops on Managing Local Collections in regional NSW between July and December 2012. 
25 August 10:30am-1:30pm
Eden Killer Whale museum & Historical Society
184 Imlay Street, Eden NSW 2551
Contact email:
Phone: (02) 6496 2094

Chasing teacher and pupil records

Emily Hanna will present Chasing teacher and pupil records to the Ryde Family History Group meeting.
8 September 10:00am-11:00am
'Wilandra' 770 Victoria Road, Ryde
Contact: Maureen Copley

Managing local collections workshop

In partnership with the Royal Australian Historical Society, we will be holding a series of free workshops on Managing Local Collections in regional NSW between July and December 2012. 
15 September 10:30am-1:30pm
Moree Community Library, Corner of Balo Street and Albert Street, Moree NSW 
Contact: Michael McNamara
Phone: 0429 608 244