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Research Guides


Collections in Melbourne: A Guide to Commonwealth Records


The Melbourne Collection by Subject

The agencies and records described in this chapter are arranged by headings that reflect the major functions and activities carried out by Commonwealth government agencies since Federation. Records predating Federation are also included under these headings.

The main headings are arranged alphabetically. They represent the functions and activities of government at the broadest level and should not be taken to be a subject listing of the collection. In some cases the main headings are so broad that they have been broken down into smaller, more specific areas – for example, land, sea and air are subdivisions of the broader term 'transport'. A search of the Archives' database, RecordSearch, for the agencies mentioned will reveal a much greater wealth and variety of records than the headings alone indicate.

The information under each heading consists of two main elements:

  • a brief administrative history of the function. The administrative history provides information about when a particular function came under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth government, the extent of the Commonwealth's involvement in that function, and which agencies were responsible for the administration and control of that function. The administrative history places the records in their appropriate administrative context which can assist in the interpretation of the records and the identification of further relevant records.
  • a short summary of the records created by Commonwealth agencies responsible for that function. The information provided includes the approximate date range of the records, types of records (eg correspondence files, case files), their format (eg maps, drawings) and the agencies responsible for creating the records.

Entries vary in length according to the complexity of the administrative history of the function and/or the amount and variety of records held.

In addition, where appropriate, mention is made of other institutions that hold related records and any published sources of information about the records relating to a particular function.


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Chapter 2
The Melbourne Collection by Subject