Mark Brennan: My presentation this year on the pictorial records at National Archives will be light in comparison to the two previous presentations. Our main avenue of records are paper files, but I just wanted to give an example of the other formats of records that you can get through National Archives.
The first two websites and databases, RecordSearch and PhotoSearch that I've highlighted there, anybody who's used our website for the past ten years or more would have had access to those two. RecordSearch primarily files, it does have some copies of photos and plans, and PhotoSearch is a much smaller database that is not used anywhere near as much as RecordSearch, but as its name leads to, it is primarily photos that we have in our collection. I'll also describe two websites that have recently been put up on our homepage: Faces of Australia and Destination Australia. Primarily Faces of Australia could be any Australians that we have photographic record of, whereas Destination Australia concentrates on migrants who came here generally post-World War II.
So that is what our homepage looks like at the moment, and for those of you that haven't logged in recently, I will just point out one change: 'Ask us a question' is a new innovation about how to lodge reference inquiries with National Archives. So, in recent times, we've taken telephone calls and letters and faxes and emails to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Now we're steering the public to log straight into the website and launch your own enquiry, and it'll go through to a reference processing centre in Canberra, and they'll disperse it to the relevant state office who may hold the records. And when you do go in to ask us a question, there's a dozen different categories where you can – whether it be service records or lighthouse records or immigration records – and you can fill out the form and submit your enquiry immediately.
Above that link on the left hand side there, 'Search the collection', is how to get into the RecordSearch and PhotoSearch databases. And the picture up the top there, which I've got in a later slide, is of the Montevideo Maru which was sunk in World War II, and you may have read where the Australian Government's recently received some nominal rolls and Prisoner of War index cards from the Japanese Government. And only recently the nominal roll has been launched on our website, so if you go in and click on that link, number three there at the moment, you can do a search on the nominal roll.
So if you've chosen to go into our search tab, that'll be the screen that you're confronted with. You can begin your search without registering as a member of the public, and you'll be able to search everything that a registered researcher can. The benefits of registering, which is free [is that] the system will then hold all of your previous searches. So if you don't get back – you were doing a search a month ago and you forget what fields you used as your search criteria – if you have registered, you'll have the facility to call up previous searches which can save a lot of time. You'll also get the opportunity to order records online if you have registered. So it's a simple process, free, and I'd recommend it.
So within that, as soon as you go into our RecordSearch database, you will go into a standard search screen, and there are tabs across the top here, and you'll see the tab there for PhotoSearch. So for those of you who know RecordSearch a bit better, you can go into an advanced search screen, but generally you'll go straight to a basic search where you get the opportunity to put keywords and a date range.
Just one thing I thought I'd show everybody. Our RecordSearch screens have changed over the last couple of years and if you do happen to get a search result – and I'm trying to think ahead for those people who haven't done a search as yet – you'll notice there's a column there titled 'digitised item' and two icons: a camera and what looks like a file. What they mean is that the entry with the camera next to it, there is a digitised photo that … you can click on that link and have a look at the photo and you can also enlarge it. Or the file type icon means that the record has been digitised and you can also click on the link and read every page. And again, there's some pages – particularly in a lot of the service records, very small writing over the top of typed fields – you can enlarge those pages, so from my experience, sometimes it's easier to read some files online than it is to get a photocopy.
Another good thing about the recent amendments to the RecordSearch screen is that by clicking any of those column headers will put it into that order. So if you brought up a result with a hundred items and you just wanted to look at the ones where there might be photos, if you click on that column 'digitised item', the digitised files will be at the top, then the photos, and then below that probably 80 out of 100 that have not been digitised. And also if you wanted to put your search into date-range order, again you'd just click on the column header there. I know a lot of staff, when we're doing a big search, we use barcode numbers as much as possible, because without doubt it just clarifies a particular item that you're after, and we like to put them into barcode order if you're scrolling through a lot of items.
So, not unlike one of the slides that Daniel showed from PROV earlier, National Archives also has plans and drawings in our custody. And this plan is of the GPO, it would have been a Department of Works job, and this one dates back to 1916. We've got plans of all post offices, and any buildings that the Commonwealth were involved in the building of … numerous plans of defence establishments, such as Maribyrnong and the ammunition at Footscray, the ammunition factory. And also we have some plans of 19th-century defence establishments, and we have two particular series of forts and fortifications and every plan in those series have been digitised. Even though that is not a colour plan, a lot of the 19th- century plans are beautiful to look at, as well as no doubt the amount of information you can glean from those.
So we also have photos in our custody, and whilst I'll explain a little bit about the subject of these two photographs, what I can tell you is the one on the left is a glass plate negative and the one on the right is actually a lantern slide. So it's not just photographs, negatives that we have – we have all different formats. So the photo on the left is a royal visit with the then-Prime Minister Bruce and the Duke and Duchess of York, and the opening of Parliament House in 1927, and the Duke later became King George VI, and the Duchess was the Queen Mother. We've got hundreds of photos and numerous files about the opening in 1927. And the photo on the right is also from Canberra and it's what was known as a post office in those days, and there were some other government departments, and it's the E-block which is now our head office in Canberra, very near Old Parliament House. So that one's pretty relevant to National Archives staff.
Another photo here of Prime Minister John McEwan being sworn in. The relevance of this, he's sworn in by the Governor General Lord Casey who we have a lot of records of his in our custody, going back to his days at Gallipoli in World War I, right through to his term as GG. And we've got not only files, but the maps and plans that he drew while he was at Gallipoli, and letters from his family whilst he was away at war. He was obviously a public servant at heart, he kept his World War I collection in very orderly fashion, and he described a lot of the goings on at Gallipoli as well. And for those of you that didn't blink, John McEwan was Prime Minister for about a month after Harold Holt went missing.
So this is a new website for National Archives, Faces of Australia. There are – and I've highlighted down there on the left-hand side, how you can get to these links – the link is that there, but if you just go home, 'The collection', 'Snapshots of the collection', and Faces of Australia, I can understand that our website looks very busy to a lot of people, particularly once you get into the second or third layer, but if you just follow that, you'll certainly get to Faces of Australia.
In this website, I believe there's about … there are 220-odd photographs of the three million images that we have in our custody. So it's what's commonly known as an interactive website where we'd like the public to participate and tag photographs there with more information. We're new in this field, and no doubt you would have seen other websites where users add to the information that is provided, and we're trying to tell the story of some famous photos that we have in our custody. When you get to that page, you just hold the mouse over the photos and it'll highlight whichever photo that you're holding the cursor on.
So I've gone down the sporting path and I've chosen one that everyone probably would know, Sir Donald Bradman, and that photo is at a Prime Minister's XI match in Canberra, 1963. And the boy who – if you read the story which is here – the boy in the photo actually sent in a story and did a tag to the photo, and he was suffering from polio, knocked on the door and who answered the door but Don Bradman. And his brothers and his family said 'you can't do that', and he goes on to tell a very sincere story about polio and about that day, how it stuck in his mind.
And that's another sporting photo, reasonably famous, particularly in Melbourne: the 1970 Grand Final, also on the Faces of Australia website. And the caption there was written by Paul Santamaria, a former chairman of the National Archives advisory council. He was at the game, he highlights who all the players are, and – as my director Russ Gibbs pointed out to me – when that photo was first released in Canberra, not being a football office, it was negative, left to right, and Paul picked up that the time clock in the middle of the photograph there was actually showing ten to, rather than ten minutes into the quarter.
So this is Destination Australia, as I described; primarily for migrants, post-World War II. A lot more photos on this website, it's still in its teething phase, it hasn't been released formally to the public as yet, but we're asking for people to go in and participate and tag photos and offer advice or comments on the website. There's plenty of instructions there: how to access particular pictures, and again when you scroll over the photos there, it highlights the one that you're interested in, and you can click and go straight into that. So there's some – and bear in mind you'll have all these on your USB sticks – but there's some contact details, and how to get into this website, and how to make comments and how to add tags. I'm sure people in our Canberra office are desperate for more people to add tags to the photos, but what you can find out from this page about the site and where to start – and it certainly leads you in softly, into this website – and for those of you that may have migrant families that came to Australia post-World War II, there certainly may be a relative of yours that we'd like to know a bit more information so that we can expand on this website.
So this website consists of 20,000 images, compared with the previous one I spoke which had 200-odd photos or images, and these photos are all from one series in our Canberra office that have no doubt been in our custody for 30 or more years, and now we've gone the track of digitising those, making those images available and trying to expand on the post-World War II migrant experience to Australia. In previous years I've given presentations where we speak about the naturalisation files and the passenger list and migrant selection documents. This is primarily photos that may arouse people's interest and get a combination of comments from families, it'd be great to add to the website. That's a new direction for National Archives, and we're in the mode of trying to get users to contribute to our websites. Rather than just put up databases with results, we're looking for feedback, we're looking for the tags, we're looking for the stories. This is part of a large project on migration to Australia which is due for release in early 2014.
That's one of the photos out of Destination Australia, obviously an Italian person I would suggest, throwing a pizza up in the air there, and there is a tag and the name of that person and it says 'yummy pizza dough'. But it's a good opportunity, again, for the family members to add to the story and maybe what happened 20 or 30 years down the track as the family grew, or maybe the business.
So finally, there's an example of the various formats of pictorial records that we've got at National Archives. The picture at the top, the Montevideo Maru of which I spoke, which is on our homepage at the moment; by the end of the year, there will be a lot more documents that we've received from the Japanese government available – they're being cared for in our preservation section in Canberra at the moment. But the nominal roll is live at the moment on the website, I believe there's up to 20,000 cards that were kept, or created by the Japanese during World War II that have been kept by the Japanese government, and they'll be available and no doubt we'll digitise those, I would suggest early next year .
The plan immediately below that is of the Port Franklin Battery, that's an example of the colourful plan which you wouldn't get these days, and that is from the 1800s I think. And as I mentioned earlier, the plans that we've got in two series of forts and fortifications have been completely digitised, so if Point Nepean or Point Franklin, South Channel Fort, if any of those are in your research, we've certainly got lots of plans in our custody, and they're available on our website.
The picture at the bottom right is from Destination Australia. It's a migrant family, and obviously one of the children – because there's a P plate on the car – has recently purchased a Holden, so it's a bit of an Australian story I suppose, a Holden car, and particularly it looks like a 1964 EH which everybody I know had one. But the trick photograph is the one above that which, unlike a good archivist, I didn't cite these photos when I did my presentation and whilst I identified most things, I couldn't go back and find that photo again, and it looks like Prime Minister Curtin and Churchill talking to the generals during World War II. But I'll leave that one as a trivia question if anyone can find it on our website because that's definitely where I got it, but I've tried all the keyword searches that I could come up with and I couldn't identify it again.
So that is all I've got in way of a presentation. If anybody had any questions, I'd be glad to answer.