Picking up where I left off last week, the next two Family History Feast speakers were Liz Denny from the Public Record Office Victoria and Andrew Griffin from the National Archives of Australia.

Liz’s presentation ‘Records of Chinese on the Ballarat goldfields’ was a fascinating look at records of Chinese individuals on the Victorian goldfields. Her talk focused mainly on records from the Ballarat Archives Centre, who hold some truly unique and sometimes unusual records (such as an underpants bill for a former Mayoress of Ballarat).

The three types of records she highlighted were Government documents in Chinese, Government documents about Chinese people and documents and material written by members of the Chinese community in the goldfields (in both Chinese and English).

One interesting set of records mentioned were the Mining Surveyors’s Survey Field Books, Ballarat Mining Division (Series VPRS 3688). These records show a snapshot of what was happening in Ballarat in that particular time. Liz showed a group of Chinese owned buildings, well documented on the survey.

She also mentioned other collections held at the Public Record Office Victoria. For example will and probate and immigration records (pre 1924).

Newspapers also show an interesting record of Chinese life in Ballarat. Liz showed an example of The English Chinese Advertiser, of which four issues are held at the Ballarat Library.  Two issues are also held at the State Library.

View in Chinese Camp, Ballarat

View in Chinese Camp, Ballarat / Creator: John Henry Harvey
Date: ca. 1875-ca. 1938
Accession no: H92.150/413

Following on after the lunch break was Andrew Griffin’s presentation ‘From monoculture to multiculture: locating information about non-British people in the records of the National Archives of Australia’.

Andrew started his talk by looking at the history of non-British migrants in Australia. He highlighted some of the lesser known groups such as the first Muslims who arrived in the 19th Century to tend the Camel trains, as well as Albanian and Malay migrants. He then moved on to specific records held at the National Archives. At the Macro level you will find records about Government policy towards non -British migrants. At a personal level you will find records relating to individuals. The types of records held include:

  • passenger lists
  • documents about travelling to Australia
  • alien registration information
  • Australian citizenship paperwork
  • information about government policy

Andrew also introduced us to the Archives’ photographic website Destination Australia. The Destination Australia website includes more than 25,000 images of migrants during Australia’s post-war immigration boom. You can tag photographs with people you know, add stories or comments.

And that sums up the two talks from the Archives. Stay tuned for my remaining two Family History Feast blog posts. Coming soon.

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