Series VPRS 12903
Photographic Negatives: Railways: Box Systems
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series Circa 1920 - 1983
  Series in Custody Circa 1920 - 1983
  Contents Circa 1920 - 1983
Public Access: Closed
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
Circa 1920 - 1983 Victorian Railways (also Victorian Railways Commissioners 1883-1973, Victorian Railways Board 1973-1983) VA 2876
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
2014 - cont Public Transport Victoria VA 4968
2014 - cont Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure VA 5003
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    PROV is currently in the process of processing items of the former Public Transport Corporation Photographic Collection. All of the negatives in the P1 consignment of this series have been imaged and can be accessed online. Due to their fragility, the original negatives have been closed to public inspection as a protective conservation measure under section 11 of the Public Records Act.

    The online images can be searched and accessed through a database index on the PROV website. To access this database please refer the following PROVguides on the PROV website and click on the relevant links within them.

    - PROVguide 69, The Public Transport Corporation Photographic Collection Online or
    - PROVguide 23, Online Catalogue PROV Digitised Records and Online Indexes

    Please note that a search result in this index will lead to images held in any of the series held in the former PTC Photographic Collection that has been digitised and not just this series (ie VPRS 12903).

    Another consignment of images from this series will eventually become available. The Function/Content section below identifies the sequence of negatives that will eventually be processed. In order to access negatives still to be processed in this series please contact the PROV Reading Room.

  • Function / Content
    This series consists of photographic negatives created by the Victorian Railways. It encompasses mostly black and white glass plate or film negatives. Images depicted in this series include trains, rolling stock, stations and other railway facilities such as rail yards and bridges, publicity pictures, some documents such as graphs or maps, items such as badges or uniforms and a small number of staff.

    Between c 1990 and June 2000, all of the items in this series were maintained within a Photographic Collection that had been established by the Public Transport Corporation. This series is one of a number of series that have been created following transfer of the Photographic Collection to PROV.

    This particular series brings together two sequences of negatives which were created within discrete and, for a period, overlapping time frames. These sequences have been brought together to form this particular series because these were created as part of a similar record keeping process utilising a system of arrangement and control based on the photo boxes that originally housed them.

    In order to facilitate access and contribute to the long term preservation of the fragile originals, Photographic Collection staff began imaging a number of the negatives in this series in 1999. This program of imaging the Collection has been continued by PROV and is currently still under way.


    The specific sequence and the consignment that has been processed and which can be viewed online is:

    Box number negatives: (held in the P1 consignment)

    This sequence consists mostly of black and white glass plate and film negatives. It also includes some copy negatives made of negatives from other sequences found elsewhere in other Photographic Collection series. It is currently unclear which part of the railways was responsible for the creation of this particular sequence.

    These negatives were numbered in a two number sequence ranging from 1- 2 to 703 - 72. (These have been listed in PROV systems with a forward slash. For example, image 218 - 10 is listed as 218/10.) It is unclear when this numbering sequence commenced but it is believed that the sequence was created between circa 1920 and at least 1983. For some reason that is unclear, box number range 500 - 511 inclusive has been repeated.

    Most of the images in this sequence have not been dated. Some of the dates included in the descriptions of negatives will identify when the image was taken (ie. the image was taken at the same time as the event, etc it depicts); other dates identify the subject of the image (i.e. the image was made many years after the event depicted but the date cited is of the event only). The earliest dated images in this sequence are of etchings depicting events in Melbourne during the Port Phillip District era (i.e. 1830s and 1840s). The most recent dated image is from 1983.


    The other sequence of negatives to be processed as part of this series is:

    'A box number' negatives:

    This sequence dates from 1953 and consists mostly of black and white film negatives. The negatives in this sequence were also numbered in the same manner as the box negatives in the P1 consignment, however, an A prefix was added to the first number for each negative. This suggests that this sequence came to be either created or held by the same area of railways as the other sequence with the A prefix being added to distinguish one sequence from the other. A negative numbered 218A - 10, for example, would be identifiable as belonging to this sequence as opposed to 218 - 10 which would belong to the other sequence (in the P1 consignment).

  • Recordkeeping System
    The two sequences of negatives originally created by the recording agencies will be maintained within the various consignments of this series.

    Negatives within each sequence are arranged in number order, originally within numbered photo boxes. Each negative contains a two number identifier. In each sequence the:

    - first number identifies the number of the photo box containing negatives, and
    - second number identifies the sequence of the negative within that box.

    For example a negative numbered 218 - 10 would be the tenth negative found within photo box number 218.

    (The negatives in the A box number sequence have an A suffix attached to the first number that appears to distinguish that particular sequence from the other. Thus in the previous example, the relevant negative would be numbered as 218A - 10.)

    For the purposes of listing on the PROV website, the numbers have been listed using a forward slash. Thus in the examples above, 218 - 10 or 218A - 10 is listed as 218/10 and 218A/10.

    Very occasionally a series of photos was allocated the same negative number and alphabetical suffixes have been added to the end of the negative (i,e the second) number.

    Separate control records (ie indexes or registers) were not originally created for either of these sequences. This is because the control record was the photo box which housed the negatives. The box contained the box number (ie the first number on the negative) and the box lid usually listed its contents in negative number order (ie the second number. The lists in Consignments and on the PROV website contain the same information as written on the box lids. Some boxes in either sequence did not contain a listing of contents

    The negatives have been or will be reprocessed into archival quality containers for storage at PROV. The original photo boxes are destroyed as the negatives within them have been processed. The portion of the box lid containing the listing of the box contents as been retained and has been placed at the start of the sequence for that box within the relevant archival container. Box lids that did not contain a listing of contents have not been retained.

    Although the original order of the negatives has been retained, it was not possible to reprocess the photo boxes in a way that reflect the original photo boxes (for example, unit 450 does not equal PROV unit 450).

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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0001 Circa 1920 - 1983 Closed 952
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