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Now&Then 21 - August 2006

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Online News

The latest additions to the online indexes and resources on our website include:

Probate Packets series 3 - Now listed on Archives Investigator!

The latest addition to Archives Investigator is Probate packets - Series 3 1875 to 1890 (which our volunteers have listed).

How to find a listing of a probate packet on Archives Investigator

Use the simple search option. Enter the surname of the person you are searching for and the word death, for example:

  • davies death

Choose All words from the simple search options. This search will eliminate many of the extraneous results that you would otherwise get.

Why does it work?

The title of all probate packets contain the word death. Searching for the surname ensures that you don't miss people with middle names, for example David Price Davies. Searching for David Davies would miss this entry.

Series 1 (April 1817-May 1873), 2 (1873-1876), 3 (1875-1890) and part of Series 4 (June 1928 to March 1932 and January 1941 to June 1942) - are listed in Archives Investigator.

The Will Books up to c1930 are available to search in both reading rooms on microfilm. For more information on probate records see Archives In Brief 84.

Index to Register of Firms 1903-22 - Now available to search!

This index is an ongoing volunteer project and will be of interest to local and family historians researching owners of firms registered under the Firms Act, 1902. The first of 24 volumes of the Registers of Firms, are now available to search.

History Week 16-24 September

History Week 2006 will be held between 16 and 24 September 2006.

History Council logoDuring History Week, community groups, local councils, libraries, archives, museums, universities, cultural institutions, professional and amateur historians across NSW open their doors to present the latest in today's historical research - fascinating stories, artefacts and experiences about both our past and ourselves today.

Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government

Guide to Responsible Government

State Records held a seminar to mark the Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government - the shifting of responsibility from the Imperial Parliament and its colonial representatives to local decision making - on 24 May 2006 in the Theatrette, Parliament House, Macquarie Street, Sydney. The seminar was hosted by The Hon. John Aquilina, MP Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

The title of the seminar was Serving the people through responsible government: representation, accountability and public service and speakers included: Rodney Cavalier (Chair, Committee for the Sesquicentenary of Responsible Government, Hilary Golder (author of Politics, Patronage and Public Works), Peter Tyler (author of Humble and Obedient Servants), Rachel Grahame (co-compiler of the Register of Women Parliamentary Candidates for the NSW Legislative Assembly) and Christine Shergold (author Guide to NSW State Archives relating to Responsible Government).

Humble and Obedient Servants OUT NOW!

New South Wales government administration increased four-fold during the first six decades of the twentieth century with population growth and greater community expectations.

Humble and Obedient ServantsMinisterial Departments proliferated to manage and regulate various forms of social welfare that had been unthinkable in the previous century.

Employment of staff for this burgeoning administrative corps and teaching service became the responsibility of the Public Service Board, which exerted rigid centralised control over every aspect of administration.

Peter Tyler's history draws on the treasure trove of original material in the NSWState archives collection and other sources to show how the bureaucracy coped, and sometimes stumbled, during sixty years of massive social change.
You can purchase your own copy:

The price of the guide is $59.95 over the counter or $71.95 by mail.

Buy online at shop.nsw or use our print friendly order form (PDF, 193kb).

Archives Investigator Tip 5 - Searching for records related to railways

There are numerous ways to approach this through Archives Investigator.

Class No.1 locomotive steam engine, NRS 17420, Digital ID 17420_a014_a014000314Simple Search is very effective for a particular place or a very specific topic, for example try 'Eveleigh'.

Structured Search Option - A great way to gain a broad view is to use the structured search option. Structured search allows you bring together all of the series likely to be of interest to you. Click on Structured search and then choose Function.

Function - Railways are part of the Infrastructure and Communications Function so check the box beside that function.
There are 3 options:

  • view activities comprising this function,
  • view agencies exercising this function and
  • view persons exercising this function.

The simplest way to find archives on railways is to view activities comprising this function by clicking on those words.

Activities - There are 3 activities that relate to rail:

  • 154 Railway and tramway construction,
  • 155 Railway service provision and
  • 237 Railway Rolling Stock Purchase and Management.

By checking the boxes against all 3 activities and then clicking on View record series documenting the selected activities. This will produce 22 pages of series relating to rail. You can browse the titles; click Detail to see more about a particular series or check boxes to see the record items.

Having got these results you can also search just these series using the equivalent of a Simple search which means you won't get information about probate, mines or other things not relevant to you. Try 'Eveleigh' again to see the difference.

Advanced Series search - Click on Advanced search then choose Record series in that option. Scroll down in the Activity field to any of the "rail" activities - Railway Rolling Stock Purchase and Management; Railway and Tramway Construction; or Railway Service Provision. Selecting one will bring up a list of the record series documenting that activity.

Start searching Archives Investigator for rail records now!

Spotlight on the Conservation of Photographs

Photographs have filtered into every aspect of our lives. There can be few people today who have not posed for a family snap shot or reminisced over holiday photos from years ago. The use of photography spans the recording of important moments in history to the more commonplace tasks of insurance and identification records. So important have they become that it is difficult to conceive of a passport without one.

To ensure that these photographs are around for future generations to enjoy it is very important that they are correctly cared for. This need not be a costly and involved process - a few simple steps can dramatically increase the life of your photographs many-fold.

Photographs deteriorate due to two main factors - their own inherent instability and the environment in which they are stored. Inherent instability is generally the result of the method used to produce the image - e.g. colour transparency, colour print, or black and white print. Environmental factors causing deterioration have many sources - including packaging, framing materials, pollutants, light, humidity, temperature, and handling. Each of these factors reacts with the chemical and physical structure of the photograph resulting in numerous forms of damage.

Preventing Damage

Labeling your photographs

Labeling and cataloguing your photographs is very important - a collection without provenance provides little pleasure for anyone. Try to get your grandparents and relatives to write down who is in your family snaps and write down those wonderful vistas you shoot while travelling - you'll regret it if you don't! However, where possible label the album page rather than the photo! Do not label your photographs directly, but if unavoidable, write in graphite or chinagraph pencil using light pressure on the back. Never use pen, as the ink can bleed and cause stains.

Storage box


Many museums store their collections in controlled atmospheres of very low temperature and low relative humidity. This is not easy to achieve in a normal household, but there are ways of prolonging the life of your precious photographs at home.

Find a place in your home that maintains a stable, cool, dry, clean environment. Do not choose rooms or cupboards that have external walls as these are less stable and can have condensation problems. Centrally located, well-insulated rooms with good ventilation are the best. If possible keep the temperature below 20°C and the relative humidity between 35-55%.

Albums, frames and enclosures

Albums and enclosures are very good for preventing handling damage as you can look at your photographs without actually touching them. Good quality frames provide some protection if you want to hang some photographs around your home. A better option would be to use copies for display and keep your originals in good storage.

Storage boxThe best photographic albums will have passed what is known as the Photographic Activity Test (P.A.T), meaning that they are manufactured from materials safe for photographic storage and display. Photographic albums should not contain sulfur or acidic materials, and it is best that they are not coloured as the dyes can migrate into your photographs. Plastic enclosures should be polyester, polyethylene or polypropylene, not polyvinyl acetate (PVC) - the manufacturer should be able to tell you what type of plastic it is.

Photographs should be spaced away from frame glazing to prevent the photograph sticking permanently to the glass or acrylic. Acrylic glazing will protect your photographs from ultra-violet light more than glass, but glass is better than having nothing at all. Ask your framer to use non-buffered acid-free cotton rag board to mount your photographs. Photo-corners are the best method of attaching your photographs in their frames or albums (unless you are using a slip-in album). Never use so called "magnetic" or self-adhesive albums as the adhesive yellows, becomes brittle and will stain and degrade your photographs.

Preserving your conventional photographs digitally?

Digital copies of your photographs can be useful to pass around the family or to put in frames around the house so that you can put your originals away safely reducing their risk of damage. And once you have that digital file you can make as many copies as you like!

Some manufacturers of digital technology advocate using it as a means of "preserving" old photos - that is, they advocate replacing your originals. While it is true that you can copy the image to a certain resolution using digital technology, the tangible qualities of the photograph as a piece of technological and social history are not copied. We recommend keeping your original photographs as well as making a digital copy.


Romance & Industry: images from the New South Wales railways

Closing 12 August 2006

This popular exhibition continues to attract groups of visitors, who are keen to sit down on its comfy couches and delve into its beautiful photograph albums.

The exhibition features luminous black and white images and stylish promotional materials held in the State archives collection that recall travel and work on the NSW railways from the 1930s to the sixties. The exhibition captures the speed and luxury of travel by train; the promise of escape and rejuvenation in a holiday away; and the feeling of pride and unity of men and women at work.

In Living Memory-Aborigines Welfare Board photo exhibition

Opening September 8 2006 - 30 June 2007

Presented by State Records and the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, In Living Memory will feature surviving photographs from the records of the NSW Aborigines Welfare Board, from 1924 to 1961.

In Living Memory logoThe process of meeting with Indigenous communities to research, develop and present the exhibition has begun to bring new life to the still images. In Living Memory is helping to create a new purpose and place for the photographs within contemporary Indigenous life.

Upcoming Talks Tours and Seminars

Death, Death, Death

Records relating to an ancestor's death often unlock past 'mysteries'. This seminar will explore inquest, probate, deceased estate and other 'death' records.
23 August (WSRC) 10:30am - 12.30pm. Free. Bookings essential.

Links with South East Asia

Learn more about the resources in the State's archives. Hosted by SAG: South East Asia. Special Interest Group.

26 August at the Society of Australian Genealogists, Rumsey Hall, Kent Street, Sydney. 10:00am - 12:00pm.

Enquiries: Call SAG on (02) 9247 3953

Maitland Family History Circle (MFHC) Family History Fair

Presentation: 'My ancestor's arrival in NSW'
27 August, Maitland City Bowls, Sport and Recreation Club. 9:00am-3:00pm.

2006 State Conference of the NSW & ACT Association of Family History Societies

Presentation: Grandfather worked for the railways &#hellip; NSW railway employment records.
15-17 September at the Hunts Convention Centre, Liverpool.

History Week 2006 16-24 September

All History Week events are free but bookings are essential

Artefacts and memories: Lebanese migration and settlement in NSW

co-hosted by State Records and the Australian Lebanese Historical Society. Photographs and collectables from the personal collections of some of the Lebanese families who settled in NSW in the late 19th century will be on display in the city reading room from 16-30 September 2006.

Remembering Gallipoli

Lunchtime lecture: Bruce Scates, Associate Professor of History at the University of New South Wales, will discuss the memorialisation of those who lost their lives at Gallipoli and other WWI battlefields.
18 September (SRC) 12:30pm-1:30pm

Guided Tour of In Living Memory

The Aborigines Welfare Board photographic exhibition In Living Memory.
19 September (SRC) 10:00-12:30.

Local government: Everyday matters touching everyone's lives

Learn more about using local government records. In conjunction with the City of Sydney.
21 September (SRC) 10:30am-12:30pm

Reflections on the history of nursing in NSW

Judith Godden, Lucy Osburn's biographer & speakers from State Records & the Lucy Osburn Museum. In conjunction with the Lucy Osburn: Nightingale Foundation of Australia.
22 September, At the Worrell Theatre, Sydney Hospital, Macquarie Street, Sydney 10:30am-12:30pm.

When were you born?

Explore some of the alternative sources in the NSW State archives for locating the date and place of a person's birth.
22 September (WSRC) 10:30am-12:30pm