Microfilm scans can now be downloaded at State Records NSW reading rooms

State Records NSW has microfilmed many of their most popular records, including those concerning immigration, convicts, Colonial Secretary’s correspondence, land, and much, much more. The whole of one wall at the Kingswood Reading Room is covered with shelving for microfilms. Many more records are available on microfiche and aperture cards.

Whereas this saves wear-and-tear on the records themselves, the catch has always been the cost of obtaining copies. Microfilm scanning machines allow you to find the record you want and then pay to have a photocopy. Copies are $1 for an A4 and $2 for an A3, which can run into quite a bit of money.

They are now experimenting with machines that you can download the scanned image to your flash drive instead of printing. I say experimenting because there are few machines available; perhaps that will change. The last time I was out at Kingswood early last week the existing machine in the corner used for taking digital photos of the screen now had a computer connected and had instructions for scanning and downloading images to your flash drive. The instructions were easy to follow and I got some great images.

There was a brand new ScanPro scanner on the desk behind that was still wrapped up. ScanPros are available at the State Library of NSW and are much easier to use, although there is a bit of a learning curve to them. Seeing the announcement from State Records NSW about ‘digital copiers in the reading rooms’ this morning leads me to think that the ScanPro is now ready for action. See http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/news/digital-copiers-in-the-reading-rooms.

If you’ve tried them out let me know what you think!

My grandfather served in World War II after all

I have written previously about how I hadn’t realised my grandfather had a defence forces service file until I saw his name in an index. The file hadn’t been digitised when I searched for it, so I ordered it and waited.

I recently got an email from the National Archives of Australia to say that my file was ready to download.

It turned out to be 16 pages. Richard Norman Eason of Hill Street, Blayney, farmer and grazier, was taken on strength of the 26th Battalion of the Volunteer Defence Corps in March 1943.

Mobilization Attestation Form

NAA: Base Records Office Australian Imperial Force; B844, Citizen's Military Forces Personnel Dossiers, 1939-1947; N348332, Richard Norman Eason. Mobilization Attestation Form.

He joined the VDC, or Volunteer Defence Corps. According to Wikipedia:

The Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) was an Australian part time volunteer military force of World War II modelled on the British Home Guard. The VDC was established in July 1940 by the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) and was initially composed of ex-servicemen who had served in World War I.[1] Thegovernment took over control of the VDC in May 1941, and gave the organisation the role of training for guerrilla warfare, collecting local intelligence and providing static defence of each unit’s home area.[1] General Harry Chauvel, who had retired in 1930, was recalled to duty in 1940 and appointed Inspector-General of the VDC. Chauvel held this position until his death in March 1945.[2]

Following the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Government expanded the VDC in February 1942. Membership was open to men aged between 18 and 60, including those working in reserved occupations. As a result, the VDC reached a peak strength of almost 100,000 in units across Australia.[1]

As the perceived threat to Australia declined the VDC’s role changed from static defence to operating anti-aircraft artillerycoastal artillery and searchlights. Members of inland VDC units were freed from having to attend regular training in May 1944 and the VDC was officially disbanded on 24 August 1945.[1]

Service and Casualty Form

NAA: Base Records Office Australian Imperial Force; B844, Citizen's Military Forces Personnel Dossiers, 1939-1947; N348332, Richard Norman Eason. Service and Casualty Form.

According to his Service and Casualty Form he was trained at the Millthorpe School of Instruction for a few days. I would love to know what sort of training he received.

There are no further entries on the form until the disbanding of the unit in September 1945.

This does explain why my grandfather was sent off to look for escaped Japanese prisoners of war during the Cowra Breakout. I guess those sorts of orders don’t appear here.

You can see more about the Australian defence forces here.

NSW Lands Department User Guides

The NSW Lands Department, or Land and Property Management Authority as they prefer to be known, have reformatted and republished their collection of User Guides. Here is a complete list, blatantly lifted from their website:

First Stop Guide to the Records of the Registrar General (PDF 1.2MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

The First Stop Guide is the first of five publications that detail the history of and information about searching and accessing land titling records in NSW. This guide aims to be your “First Stop” in helping you decide which publication(s) suits your particular searching needs.

A Brief History of the Records of the Registrar General (PDF 3.1MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This publication offers a brief history of the Office of the Registrar General since its inception in 1843 and the records it holds which date back to 1792. It also describes how land was initially acquired and consequently managed.

Old System Information and Search Guide (PDF 9.8MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This guide explains the intricacies of Old System land title and offers advice and tips on how to search the indexes and documents that have been registered with the Registrar General since New South Wales (NSW) was founded.

Searching the Registrar General’s Maps and Plans (PDF 4.7MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This guide has been prepared to provide a reference guide to Land and Property Information (LPI) mapping and plan resources and as a research tool for historical inquiry.

Torrens Title Information and Search Guide (PDF 5.0MB)
Published 20 Apr 2011

This guide describes how Torrens title information has been recorded historically and offers practical information on how to locate current and historical Torrens title information.

I haven’t examined them in detail as yet, but on first inspection they appear to be much more manageable and more concise than the old ones. The Old System Information and Search Guide is 45 pages and is much clearer and more friendly than the old 148-page User Guide to Old System Searching published in December 2009.

Here is an example. This is the first page of Chapter 1 of the old (2009) and new (2011) versions:

NSW Lands old Old System Guide Chapter 12009

NSWLands Old System Guide Chapter 12011

No comparison really. The descriptive text appears to be the same, at least in the first few pages, but the explanations are much clearer.

I recommend you go and find these guides if you have any interest in land and property in New South Wales. Researchers from other States are also likely to find the explanations useful, as the types of land records are similar in all States.

With grateful thanks to the NSW Land and Property Management Authority

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