Series VPRS 1163
Inward Correspondence Files
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series 1883 - 1972
  Series in Custody ? 1883 - 1971
  Contents 1883 - 1971
Public Access: Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
 
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
Display entries per page
Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1883 - 1936 Premier's Office (also known as Premier's Department) VA 672
1936 - 1972 Department of the Premier (also known as Premier's Department 1960-1982) VA 2717
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
Display entries per page
Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1982 - cont Department of the Premier and Cabinet VA 1039
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    HOW TO FIND THE RECORDS YOU WANT
    BRIEF GUIDE

    STEP ONE - Find the file number of the inward correspondence.
    The file number will show the year and number of the file eg. 89/1357

    ===================================================================================
    Date Range | Method
    ===================================================================================
    1883 - 1917 | (i) Check the Card Index to Premier's Correspondence located in the Laverton
    | search room (c1887 - 1917); or
    |
    | (ii) Check the indexes at the back of the registers (VPRS 1164) for the years
    | 1903 - 1917; or
    |
    | (iii) Decide who might have written to the Premier about the subject that
    | interests you or find out which government department was responsible for
    | that function. Check the entries in the appropriate categories in the registers | (VPRS 1164).
    |
    | (iv) Proceed to STEP TWO.
    ====================================================================================
    1918 - 1971 | (i) Check the Card Index to Premier's Correspondence in the Laverton search
    | room. (1918 - c1957); or
    |
    | (ii) Check VPRS 7611 Subject Index to Inward and Outward Correspondence
    | (c1949 - 1971); or
    |
    | (iii) Check the indexes at the back of the registers (VPRS 10374) for the years
    | 1918 to 1923 and 1939 to 1946; or
    |
    | (iv) Decide who might have written to the Premier about the subject that
    | interests you or find out which government department was responsible for
    | that function. Check the entries in the appropriate categories in the registers
    | (VPRS 10374).
    |
    | (v) Proceed to STEP TWO.
    ====================================================================================
    STEP TWO - FINDING THE FILE
    ====================================================================================
    OPTION 1 |
    | (i) Check the records description lists for VPRS 1163 Correspondence Files.
    If you found | Check the lists for the year you want. If the file is not listed, check
    the file number | the lists for consignments P1, P3, P4 and P6.
    in one of the |
    card indexes | (ii) If the file is not listed in VPRS 1163, check the records description list for
    | VPRS 1170 Special Files.
    |
    | (iii) If you cannot see the file listed, go to OPTION 2.
    ====================================================================================
    OPTION 2 |
    | (i) To find the location of a file, you must know the final number given to that
    If you found | file.
    the file number | To find the final number of a file you must search the chain of registration
    | numbers in the registers until you come to an entry which has no
    register or if | subsequent reference.
    you cannot | Please ask the Reference Archivist for help if you are not familiar
    find a file | with the registers.
    that is listed |
    in the card |
    index. |
    FINDING THE FILE
    ====================================================================================
    OPTION 2 |
    Cont. | (ii) Once you have the final or "top" number of the file, check the records
    | description lists for VPRS 1163. Check the lists for the year you want. If
    | the file is not listed, check the lists for consignments P, P1, P3, P4 and P6.
    |
    | (iii) If you cannot find the file listed in VPRS 1163, check the records description
    | list for VPRS 1170 Special Files.
    |
    | (iv) If you cannot see the file listed ask the Reference Archivist for assistance.
    |
    ====================================================================================
    "Missing" Files

    There are many reasons why the file you want may not be listed in VPRS 1163. The file may not be listed under the registration number you have, because:

    * The file has not survived.

    * The file was referred to another department and not returned to the Premier's Office.

    * Either the index card or the register was not updated when a later piece of correspondence was added to the file which will have been listed under that later number.

    * The top piece of correspondence became detached from the file and the file is listed under the number of an earlier letter.

    * The file is listed in VPRS 1170.

    * The file was incorporated into the new system introduced in 1972.

    Some of these problems may be solved by consulting the registers. Please ask the Reference Archivist for some assistance.

    SERIES REGISTRATION

    This series consists of general correspondence files. VPRS 1163 represents only a portion of the correspondence files created within the Premier's Office from the time of its establishment in 1883 until 1971 when the recordkeeping system was radically changed, other correspondence registered in this recordkeeping system may be located in VPRS 1170 Special Files.

    Indexes

    Card Index to Premier's Correspondence c1887 - c1957
    (Unregistered; located in Laverton search room)

    VPRS 7611 Subject Index to Inward and Outward
    Correspondence c1949 - 1971

    Registers

    VPRS 1164 Registers of Inward Correspondence 1883 - 1917

    VPRS 10374 Registers of Inward and Outward
    Correspondence 1918 - 1971

    Outward Correspondence

    VPRS 1161 Outward Registered Correspondence 1883 - ?1974


    RETRIEVAL OF FILES

    Finding the Correspondence File Number

    Researchers may obtain relevant file numbers by

    (i) consulting the card index in the Laverton Search Room or VPRS 7611 - Subject Index to Inward and Outward Correspondence

    (ii) using the indexes in the registers (VPRS 1164 and VPRS 10374) for the years 1903 to 1923 and 1939 to 1946

    (iii) scanning the registration entries in a likely category within either the inward or outward registers (VPRS 1162 Registers of Outward Correspondence) or a likely category in outward letter books.

    (iv) using the cross-references on the correspondence (inward and outward) or in the registers.

    (v) scanning the item lists for VPRS 1170 and VPRS 1163 P1, P3, P4 and P6 - all of which provide file titles.

    Finding the file

    If method (i) is used, researchers should be advised to consult the item lists for VPRS 1163 (remember to check the chronological sequences and the other consignments).

    If the file is not listed, they should then check the list for VPRS 1170.

    If they cannot locate the file, or if they have obtained the file number via alternatives (ii), (iii) or (iv) they will need assistance to use the registers to follow the chain of previous and subsequent papers until they find the top number under which the file was put away. Though not infallible, the registers do seem pretty reliable at least from 1883 to the 1950's. The reliability of the registers for the last twenty years is still to be investigated.

    The registers will usually indicate if an "old" file has been closed and put away, in which case the earlier papers on the file should be listed under that number in the item list. The registers will also indicate whether an item of correspondence was referred to another department for action and not returned, and registers from 1920 (and perhaps earlier) to 1922 and from 1930 to 1938 indicate that some items have been destroyed.

    The item lists for the period c1900 to c1940's suggest that many files are no longer extant.

    "Missing" files

    In summary, researchers may not find the file they want listed in VPRS 1163 because:

    (i) it is not extant (perhaps as a result of deliberate culling)

    (ii) the file has not been transferred to the PRO

    (iii) the correspondence was referred to another department and not returned

    (iv) either the index card or the register was not updated and hence they have the number of an earlier paper rather than the one under which the file was eventually put away

    (v) an "old" file was put away and a "new" file was commenced

    (vi) the top piece of correspondence became detached from the file and the file is listed under the number of a previous paper

    (vii) the file is listed in VPRS 1170

    (viii) the file was top numbered into the subsequent multiple number system introduced in 1972

    (ix) the researcher has not checked the list for the right consignment.

    NB If the reason is (iii), (iv), (v), (vi) or (viii), the problem can sometimes be solved by a second look at the registers.

    DOCUMENT LEVEL CONTROL AND "TOP NUMBERING"

    A characteristic feature of the recordkeeping practice of the central registry of the Premier's Office is the maintenance of document level control from 1883 to at least 1976. Items of inward correspondence were individually registered within an annual single number system from 1883 to 1971. With some exceptions in later years, files in VPRS 1163 consist of individually registered items, the files being identified and controlled by the number of the top (most recent) piece of correspondence to which earlier papers on the subject were attached. The registration numbers of both previous and subsequent papers were noted in the registers and on the correspondence itself. It is not uncommon to find files consisting of correspondence items registered over many years.

    FILING AND CROSS-REFERENCING OF INWARD AND OUTWARD CORRESPONDENCE

    As the current title of VPRS 1163 indicates, the correspondence files initially only included letters received. Separate registers were maintained until 1918 when a combined register was introduced. (See VPRS 1164, VPRS 1162 and VPRS 10374). A separate series of copies of outward correspondence (VPRS 1161) was created in 1883 and continued at least until 1974.

    Although the exact date is still to be established, it is apparent that from at least 1918, the registry began to file copies of some outward letters with the inward correspondence. By 1925, when the use of a separate numbering sequence for the identification of outward correspondence was abandoned, the practice of filing copies of outward correspondence with letters received was common and in later years it was a matter of routine.

    From 1883 the system provided for the cross-referencing of inward and outward correspondence. Initially, either the docket containing the inward correspondence or the correspondence itself was annotated with the date and outward letter number and sometimes an indication of the substance of the reply. The cross-references were frequently recorded on the upper left hand side of the correspondence and usually took one of two forms: 13.6.83 or 111
    51 16/1/17
    From 1885 copies of outward correspondence in VPRS 1161 include a reference to the registration number of the inward correspondence. These cross-references ceased in 1925 when, as indicated above, separate registration sequences were discontinued and the filing of copies of outward letters with inward correspondence became an increasingly common practice.

    CHANGES IN FILE FORMAT, ANNOTATIONS AND CROSS-REFERENCES

    1883 - 1884

    In 1883 and 1884 the files consist of individually registered items, previous papers being attached to subsequent correspondence and the file being identified by, and put away under, the registration number of the most recent piece of correspondence. Some letters received were placed in dockets (or jackets) on which a precis of the content of the letter was written and a summary of the action to be taken was minuted. Many files however do not include dockets and are simply accumulations of loose papers.

    In 1883 the registration numbers were written in purple ink at the head of the correspondence. They were expressed thus: P96 - "P" indicating Premier's Office and "96" being the registration number allocated from within the annual sequence. By 1884 registration numbers were written in red thus: P 84
    150,
    the year of registration having been added to the reference.

    The correspondence was annotated with the registration number(s) of the previous paper(s) and, at the foot of the letter, a reference to the registration number of the subsequent paper to which it was to be attached was noted. These references were initially identified as "att" or attached papers and subsequently as "PP" (previous papers) and "SP" (subsequent papers) as appropriate.

    Inward correspondence may also bear the outward correspondence number given it by the sender and, if it was referred to another department for advice, the letter may be annotated with the inward registration number given it by that department.

    Instructions such as "PA" (put away) and sometimes the date of the instruction are often noted on the correspondence and some carry an instruction to "Index" or "Index carefully".

    1917 - 1918

    By 1917 the annotations on the files were essentially the same as those for the earlier period, except that the registration number was now stamped on the correspondence thus
    174 17
    0283. The handwritten number inside the head of the "P" (i.e. 174) refers to the folio number of the register in which the correspondence was registered. Subsequently this became a reference to the tag number of the section of the register, rather than to a page number.

    By 1918 (and perhaps earlier) the correspondence on some files was enclosed between two linen-backed card covers and a file title eg. "Military and Postal Main Roads" was written on the front cover. In the top right hand corner of the front covers of some files, there is a large number written in red crayon thus: 6 or 22. This number is not the registration number of the last piece of correspondence on the file and its significance is yet to be determined. The corners and their associated numbers have subsequently been clipped from some files, but again the significance of this procedure is not known.

    Many files however were not provided with covers and continued to be simply accumulations of loose papers. The rationale governing the provision of covers for particular files is also not known.

    1950 - 1951

    By 1951 some files remained without covers; some were accumulations of papers placed between two pieces of heavy cardboard and others had a dark brown folder style cover with a printed heading "Premiers Office" and provision for recording the subject of the file. It is not known when such covers were introduced nor at what stage in the recordkeeping procedure correspondence was placed in them. It may be that correspondence was given such a cover when the file was to be put away - either because a piece of business had been completed and subsequent action was considered unlikely or because earlier papers on a subject were to be put away and a new file commenced. (See reference to old file/new file below)

    The covers of some of these files were annotated with the file numbers of the subsequent or new file and with apparent cross-references to related files. For example, on the cover of a file entitled "Queensland Coal - (Callide Coal)" there are references to a new file number i.e. the registration number of the next piece of correspondence received on that subject and references to the old and new file numbers for a related subject, "Coal Supplies".

    Items of correspondence for this period continued to be annotated with the numbers of previous papers but references to subsequent papers became far less common.

    By 1951 (and perhaps earlier) some items of correspondence were no longer registered individually. It appears that some letters received and subsequently referred to another department for advice, were given a registration number and that number was then used to identify all subsequent correspondence relevant to that specific inquiry. Subsequent correspondence on a related matter was registered however, and the previous papers were "top numbered" in the usual way.

    1971

    By 1971 some files were attached only to a backing sheet while others had both a backing and a facing sheet.

    Though evidence of document level registration and top numbering is apparent, it is also clear that much of the correspondence was no longer being individually registered and that some "general" files had been established. (See below)

    Cross-references to previous papers continued, though the references were less common than in previous years and references to subsequent papers appear to have ceased.

    File covers carried references to "old" and "new" file numbers and some of the files contained a face sheet which provided the number of a subsequent file established in 1972 within the new multiple-number classification scheme, introduced as part of a major re-organisation of the recordkeeping system of the Premier's Office.

    SIGNIFICANT MODIFICATIONS TO THE FILING SYSTEM

    (1) Office Files

    From 1923 there are increasingly frequent references to "Office Files" in section (category) 29 of the registers. Section 29 recorded correspondence from the Premier, Cabinet Decisions and from 1923, "Office Files". The Office Files for 1949 for example, cover a wide range of topics including: Boards, Trusts and Commissions - terms of expiration; Food parcels for staff-AG (Agent-General, London); Subjects to be listed for next Premier's Conference; Opening of Parliament; Debretts Peerage; Department return to the Public Service Board (temporary appointments); Credentials; Accumulated Recreation Leave - Departmental Return; Departure of the Governor and Lady Dugan; Car 160,
    Car 233....

    Although further research is required to determine the exact nature of these files, it seems likely that they deal with matters for which the Premier's Office was substantively responsible, including those concerned with protocol; routine matters such as the issuing of credentials for Victorians travelling abroad and housekeeping matters related to the administration of the office including staffing, leave, cars etc. It also seems likely that many of the papers on such files were not registered separately but were controlled by one file number. In 1951, for example, the file dealing with credentials is registered as 51/33 and individual documents are numbered 51/33-401, 51/33-402 etc.

    Cabinet Documents

    Given our difficulty in locating cabinet records, it is interesting to note that the source of some items of correspondence registered in this section (29) is shown as "cabinet decision". Some items on files in VPRS 1163 also bear the annotation "for cabinet" or "for cabinet decision".

    (2) Old files/New files

    From 1923 the registers recorded decisions regarding the closure of "old" files and the commencement of "new" files. Earlier papers were put away under the number of the most recent piece of correspondence and a new file was commenced when a subsequent piece of correspondence was received and registered. This practice became increasingly common and by 1951 (and perhaps earlier), references to "old" and "new" file numbers were recorded on file covers as well as in the registers. Unfortunately there are no such indications in the card index. (VPRS 7611)

    An understanding of this practice is important for file retrieval, since surviving "old" files are listed on the records description list for VPRS 1163 according to the top number under which they were put away.

    (3) General Files

    As indicated above, it is clear that by 1971 not all items of correspondence were registered. By then general files had been established. For example, on the file "Pollution-General" - the first letter is registered but subsequent correspondence on the subject from individuals and organisations and press cuttings have not been entered in the registers, though they have been annotated with the registration number of the first item. A later item was individually registered and all previous papers were attached to it. The rationale for deciding whether or not a letter would be separately registered is not known.

    The extent of this practice is yet to be determined, as are the commencement dates of these changes in procedure. It is evident that the practice had become common by 1971 since there are relatively few entries in the register for that year, despite reports of increasing quantities of correspondence having been received by the Department of the Premier.

    EVIDENCE OF CULLING OF FILES

    From at least 1920 and perhaps earlier, though this is yet to be verified, there is evidence of the culling and destruction of some inward correspondence. Some entries in the registers have been stamped "destroyed". These annotations cease by 1922 and reappear in 1930 from which time they continue until the register for 1938. From 1939 there appear to be no further references, however further research is required to determine the extent of culling, which files were culled and whether culling, though unrecorded in the registers, continued. Certainly there are many files for the period c1900 to c1940's which are apparently no longer extant but the reasons for these gaps have not yet been investigated.

    CONSIGNMENTS COMPLICATE RETRIEVAL

    1883 - 1967

    Further research is required before a complete accessions history for this series can be constructed. However it is thought that the files listed for the period 1883 to 1967 and identified as VPRS 1163/P were transferred to the custody of the Archives Division and subsequently to the PRO as part of at least six separate accessions between 1966 and 1978.

    The item list for this "consignment" was prepared as part of a backlog processing project undertaken from March to May 1984 by a group of three temporary staff employed under the provisions of the Commonwealth Employment Programme.

    1968 - 1969

    VPRS 1163/P5 consists of correspondence files for 1968 and 1969. The files were transferred in 1988 and the item lists provide file numbers only.

    1970 - 1971

    VPRS 1163/P2 consists of correspondence files for 1970 and 1971. The files were transferred to the PRO in 1988 and the item list provides file numbers only.

    Other Consignments

    VPRS 1163/P1 which consists of files relating to Victoria's Centenary Celebrations, was transferred to the PRO in 1985 from Victoria's 150th Anniversary Board. The files in this consignment were registered in 1934 and 1935 and file titles are recorded on the item list.

    [NB Two other files relating to the centenary celebrations were transferred in 1988 as part of consignment P6]

    VPRS 1163/P3, P4 and P6 each consists of a miscellany of registered files. The files were registered between 1889 and 1968. These consignments were all transferred in 1988 and the reason for their being listed as three separate consignments is not known. The item lists provide file titles. In VPRS 1163/P3 there is a significant run of files relating to Federation; in P4 a number of files relate to the salaries and allowances of Parliamentarians and senior officials and in VPRS 1163/P6 many files relate to coronation celebrations in the first decade of this century.

    P7 Consignment

    The P7 consignment consists of a single unit which contains parts B,C,F and J of file number 66/2995. The first part of file number 66/2995, which has no alphabetical part identifying number, is located in unit 1301 of the original consignment. A note on that file cover indicates that subsequent parts A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H were created. At the time the P7 consignment was transferred into archival custody the location of parts A, B, E and G was unknown.

    Draft Bill to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia

    File P98/927 (unit 417 of the `P' consignment) contains a certified printed copy of the draft bill to constitute the Commonwealth of Australia as adopted by the Australasian Federal Convention on 16 March 1898. The draft Bill is signed by the Convention President and Clerk and was forwarded to the Governor-in-Council in accordance with Section 32 of the Australasian Federation Enabling Act 1896. It was found by staff of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in a suspension file marked `Constitutional Documents' in its Commonwealth - State Relations Branch. This followed publication of a claim in The Age newspaper on 1 March 1994 that a copy of the Commonwealth Constitution was rotting within that Department. Apart from the first page of the document which contains the certifying signatures, the draft Bill is identical to that published in the Convention proceedings.

    Also found with the draft Bill were seven loose Letters Patent mostly dealing with Federal Council/Convention issues. These have been transferred as VPRS 4651/P2 Unregistered papers, reports and correspondence).

    Date Range

    The end date of this series has been artificially extended to 1972 in order to allow the relationship between it and VPRS 7614 to be entered on the database.

  • Function / Content


  • Recordkeeping System


More research resourcesMore research resources
Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
Display entries per page
Date Range Series Title Series Number
1883 - 1893 Subject Index to Inward Correspondence Files VPRS 12188
1883 - 1917 Register of Inward Correspondence VPRS 1164
1918 - 1971 Register of Inward and Outward Correspondence Part 1 VPRS 10374
1950 - 1971 Subject Index to Inward and Outward Correspondence VPRS 7611
Controlled SeriesControlled Series
Display entries per page
Date Range Series Title Series Number
Previous SeriesPrevious Series
Display entries per page
Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
Subsequent SeriesSubsequent Series
Display entries per page
Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
- 1934 Protocol Files - Royal Visit 1934, H.R.H. Duke of Gloucester VPRS 7651
1934 - 1972 General Correspondence Files, Multiple Number System I VPRS 7614
List/s of records in this seriesList/s of records in this series
Display entries per page
Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0000 1883 - 1967 Open 1329
P0001 1934 - 1935 Open 2
P0002 1970 - 1971 Open 87
P0003 1889 - 1899 Open 4
P0004 1939 - 1969 Open 5
P0005 ? 1968 - 1969 Open 60
P0006 1901 - 1948 Open 1
P0007 1966 - 1966 Open 1
P0008 1945 - 1971 Open 7
P0009 1955 - 1967 Open 1
P0010 1942 - 1970 Open 1
Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
Display entries per page
Date Range Series Title Series Number
1883 - 1893 Subject Index to Inward Correspondence Files VPRS 12188
1883 - 1917 Register of Inward Correspondence VPRS 1164
1918 - 1971 Register of Inward and Outward Correspondence Part 1 VPRS 10374
1950 - 1971 Subject Index to Inward and Outward Correspondence VPRS 7611
More research resourcesMore research resources