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This page will assist in completing the PRO 21B New Series form and PRO 21B Subsequent Consignment form, requirements for starting a records transfer project to PROV. 

An important aspect of a records transfer project is capturing information about the records you are transferring. This information will be used by researchers to find and understand the records once they have been transferred to PROV custody.

Describing records and their context

Refer to questions 1, 2 and 3 of the PRO 21B New Series form, and question 1 of the PRO 21B Subsequent Consignment form.

A series is a collection of records that belong together. They are classified by ‘the same identifiable sequence or that result from the same function or activity.’

There are a variety of different record series types, these include:

  • Sequential Series: These series comprise of records that have been arranged in a single numerical, alphabetical, chronological or other identifiable sequence.
  • Accumulative Series: A series of records that have a similar format, function or information content that have been placed together in the same filing or accumulation process.
  • Single Item Series: When a single item is located that does not belong to an identifiable sequence and has not been accumulated and filed with other items it may become a series in its own right. (It is important to undertake research to ensure that the record in question was not part of a larger series at an earlier date before deciding that a record is a single item series).
  • Previous Series: A series that records a similar function to another series that it immediately precedes.
  • Subsequent Series: A series that records a similar function to another series that it immediately succeeds.

Each new series requires a separate PRO 21B form to be completed.

The entire contents of a series may not necessarily be transferred at the same time. A series may also be transferred to PROV in portions, known as consignments, over a number of years. A consignment comprises of record items belonging to the one series which are accessioned into the custody of PROV as part of the one transfer. A consignment may consist of the entirety of a series or only part of a series. Consignments may be purposefully created, for example, when dealing with records that have closed access, or when completing annual transfers from an existing series.

Each new consignment requires a separate PRO 21B Subsequent Consignment form to be completed.

Refer to questions 4, 5, 6 and 7 on PRO 21B New Series form, and questions 2 and 3 on PRO 21B Subsequent Consignment form.

Series Date Range 

The series date range is the date range of the recordkeeping process or system. For example, in relation to a correspondence file series, the series date range is the date when the files used under that recordkeeping system were created and the date they stopped being created.

The series date range refers to when the agency and its successor agencies began and ceased creating the records, not the date range of the agency. 

The easiest way to identity the date range of the records series is to arrange the records into the original order or sequence. The first and last date of the records should then be clear.

Date range may be evident from:

  • Control symbols such as file numbers
  • Record titles, e.g. Rate Book 1955
  • Dates on the records

When recording date ranges only the year the series was created/ceased needs to be noted. For example, if a series was recorded in a single year then the date range should be recorded e.g. 1890 – 1890. If it covers a period of several years, the first and last should be recorded e.g. 1900 – 1950.

It is common to transfer portions of a records series at different times. You will need to determine the date range of the entire series as well as the portion of the series that you are transferring, as they may differ.

Contents Date Range

The date range of the contents of the records being transferred may differ to the date range of the series. This may occur if documents that pre-date the series are incorporated in the file or are added to files after the series had ceased to be used.

Many record series contain material which is older than the system into which it has been incorporated. This may happen when existing papers of files from an earlier system are used to form the basis of, or added to, files created in a new system. Similarly, later material may have been added to files within a system in which the creation of new files had ceased some time previously.

Refer to questions 8, 9, 10 and 11 on the PRO 21B New Series form, and questions 4 and 5 on the PRO 21B Subsequent Consignment form.

A Record Series is a group of records which are recorded or maintained by the same agency (or agencies) and which: 

  • are in the same numerical, alphabetical, chronological or other identifiable sequence; or
  • result from the same accumulation or filing process.

The concept of arrangement and control is relevant to both physical and digital records, as records may be classified and uniquely identified in either of these formats.

Different ways of managing records

Systems of arrangement vary. Common types of sequences include:

  • Chronological: 1989/1, 1990/2, 1990/3, 1991/1 etc.
  • Alphabetical: Andrews, Cooper, Ferguson etc.
  • Numerical: 1, 2, … 283, 284 etc. 
  • Alpha – numeric: A/1, A/2, B/1 etc.

Control symbols are often used to identify specific records within a series. Common control system formats include:

  • Annual Single Number System: 95/1 to 95/200 etc.
  • (In this control system the prefix (i.e. 95 for 1995) refers to the year the file was created while the second number (i.e. 200) represents the number assigned to the file as it was created)
  • Single Number System: 1, 2, 3 etc.
  • Two Number System: 1/1, 1/2, 1/3 etc.
  • Multiple Number System: 5/13/1, 5/13/2, 5/13/3 etc. (In this control system the prefix (i.e. 5) relates to the subject or classification)
  • Alpha – Numeric System: A/1, A/2, B/1 etc.

Control systems apply to both physical and digital records.

If records have been migrated from one recordkeeping system to another, they may have multiple control symbols. This should be identified and documented where possible.

Useful information to document about records series includes:

  • previous and subsequent arrangement and control systems used to classify the records
  • any special or unusual features or anomalies in the recordkeeping practice
  • any subsequent action taken by agency staff, users or archives staff which has affected the arrangement of records, e.g. the top numbering of files
  • records that have been transferred to a successor agency, lost or destroyed
  • any gaps in the sequence and the reasons, if known.

Control Records

Control records refer to records, such as an index or a register, that are used to manage and access a records series. The date range of control registers is usually the same as the series date range; however, in some circumstances the contents date range may vary.

A ‘control relationship’ refers to the relationship that exists between two series in a recordkeeping system, for example and index that records file numbers and instructs users on how to access to a series of files.

Refer to questions 12 and 13 on the PRO 21B New Series form, and questions 7 and 8 on the PRO 21B Subsequent Consignment form.

Records Creators

The creating agency of a record series is the agency that originally created the records. There may be more than one agency that created the series over time.  

Understanding the administrative history of your agency is helpful for determining which previous agencies had responsibility for the functions documented in the records at specific times.

Determining the creating agency is usually straightforward. Common ways to identify creating agencies are:

Using the records themselves, such as:

  • file covers
  • stamps or seals
  • addresses on incoming or outgoing correspondence
  • the position and the name of the individual signing the correspondence
  • letterhead, logos or branding (beware of superseded or repurposed stationary that may be misleading)
  • date range.

Using internal sources, such as:

  • the physical location of the records (the agency that occupied the building at that time)
  • staff who may have knowledge of the history of the records
  • documentary sources (for example, annual reports, legislation, Victoria Government Gazette, organisational charts).

Using external sources, such as:

  • the PROV online catalogue, which can provide information on the administrative history of the function that the records document.
  • published histories.

Responsible Agencies

The creating agency and responsible agency are not always the same, due to machinery-of-government changes over time. If the records were created by a previous agency, you will also need to capture which section of your agency has inherited responsibility for the records being transferred.

When records are closed, only authorised users from the current responsible agency are able to access the records once they are in PROV custody.

Material in the Public Record Office Victoria archival collection contains words and descriptions that reflect attitudes and government policies at different times which may be insensitive and upsetting

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples should be aware the collection and website may contain images, voices and names of deceased persons.

PROV provides advice to researchers wishing to access, publish or re-use records about Aboriginal Peoples