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Expert Q&A :: Resources at the Immigration Museum Victoria

For our Expert Q&A on Thursday, May 30 we had Phillip and Jan from the Immigration Museum Victoria to answer your questions about how to get the most from the museum’s collection and resources. Thanks again to Phillip and Jan for giving us all the benefit of their time and expertise.

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Don’t forget our Expert Q&As happen every Thursday night on the Inside History Magazine facebook page

When: NSW – ACT – VIC – TAS: 8:30-9:30pm AEDT | QLD: 7:30-8:30pm | WA: 5:30-6:30pm | NT: 7:00-8:00pm | SA: 8:00-9:00pm | Weekly on Thursdays nights!

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Summary of links from the Q&A:


Transcript of Expert Q&A – Museum Victoria – Immigration Museum

Our Expert Q&A with the Immigration Museum Victoria team starts in 15 minutes at 8:30pm AEST. Join us with your questions on the Museum Victoria‘s education and family history resources, and immigration into Victoria.

Please ask your questions in a comment below, and Phillip or Jan will answer in a following comment.

Comment: IHM: Welcome everyone, thanks for joining us. Please welcome Phillip and Jan to tonight’s Q&A!
A. IHM: Tip :: Keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear and remember to look through the entire list of comments, as Facebook may order your questions and answers out of sequence.
A. Phillip: Hello everyone
A. Jan: Hello everyone
A. Carmel: Hi all
A. IHM: Hi Carmel 🙂

Q. From Ros: What are the best source for German immigration into Victoria?
A. Phillip: @Ros Hi Ros, depends on what time period you are looking for? Is it pre 1923? Or are you just interested in general history?
A. Ros: The one I am helping research was born about 1858 in Wahrenhelz or Wahrenholz germany,(prussia or Austria and married in Australia in 1887. The other was perhps borni n Hanover about 1830 and died in Australia in 1867 so I’m hoping to find some sources which will help us track down these elusive family members.
A. Phillip: @Ros Births Deaths and Marriages Ros in each State may give you further information on the wherabouts of this elusive family member. Again arrival records through PROV is also an option, but again it depends on what State they may have arrive.
A. Phillip: as to which archives you search.
A. Ros: We have searched the BDMs extensively but I was just wondering if there were any alternative records you might know about. I do know that many of the German settlers in the Riverina came in to the Rivernian via South Australia but I was thinking Victorian entry would be an alternative. We know where they ended up just not how they came in…
A. Phillip: @Ros Well Ros again it’s a case of finding out what State they arrived in. South Australia for example was a very popular destination for German Migrants so the South Australian Archives may be a good start.

Q. From Carmel: I have an ancestor travelled intermediate in 1850 arriving Adelaide Jan 1851. Trying to find out more about intermediate travel. He was in Melb before July 51 and wondering is there are any records of interstate travel?
A. IHM: Hi Carmel, here’s the link to the Public Record Office Victoria 1852-1915 Index: outward passengers to interstate, UK & foreign ports ::
A. Jan: Hello Carmel my colleague Phil is better placed to answer these questions.
A. Carmel: would also like to find more about the crews, I am sure a couple of mine came out as crew and that is why they are not appearing on passenger lists
A. Phillip: @Carmel Interesting question Carmel. Crew lists can be sourced at PROV as well as the State Library of Victoria’s Genealogy Centre
A. IHM: Here’s the link to Public Record Office Victoria crew list records ::
A. IHM: Here’s the link to the National Archives of Australia guides to ship crew lists after 1922 ::
A. Carmel: Thanks Cassie but mine came from Adelaide to Melb, don’t worry have exhausted this link time and time again. great link and have found a lot there too. have to remember too that not all will be found here, many just came in as mr or mrs etc so no guarantee of finding all.
A. IHM: And the link to the State Library of Victoria guide to ship’s crew lists ::
A. Carmel: I also have a couple of pics of my husband and family on the ship out from Holland in 1958.

Q. From Dan: Looking for information on a Daniel Gallagher or Gollougher that came from co down Ireland. Born 1828 in Ireland died in maldon 1898, unsure of when he arrived, but had 2 brothers John and Micheal.
A. Phillip: @Dan Each state looked after there migration records in this time period. You would need to visit the archives of each state online to view records. For example Public Records Office of Victoria can assist you with Victorian arrivals only.

Q. From Lynda: I’ve got a baby born at sea 1852 (Burns) but cannot find the ship arriving. He died whilst still an infant on the Collingwood flats so I think I can rule out the SA option. Any ideas?
A. Phillip: @Lynda Hi Lynda well given that the baby died in Victoria you can presume that he/she is listed in the PROV records for arrival at that time period. See PROV link above. It must be noted that not all ships ie Merchant Ships were listed so it could be a case that they are not listed. State Library of Victoria have very good listings of other ships arriving in Melbourne and surrounds
A. Michelle: One of my families travelled from Ireland to Sydney in the 1880s but with no record. I have a copy of a letter written by the surgeon on the Orizaba stating that their child died and was buried at sea before arriving in Adelaide. The family are actually recorded on the Victorian shipping registers as arriving Melbourne. They actually travelled on to Sydney.

Q. From Linda: Good evening all. I have an interest in travel luggage. In the 1970s I bought a tall (seven foot plus – showing my age), very narrow cupboard with shelves that were resting on pieces of wood that could be moved up and down to make shelving of the desired configuration. I was told it came from a local Dutch family (wish I had asked for a name!) that emigrated in “the very early days”, who bought it out with them when they emigrated. It was designed to be shipped on what is now its back, packed with well-wrapped crockery (where it would no doubt have survived). On arrival it was unpacked, the cupboard stood up, and the crockery put back in it. Question – were these cupboards common to your knowledge? Perhaps something sold at a port? Any thoughts at all on a date?
A. Linda: Two photos over on the side bar. The top easily removes (and could have been packed inside) and the base is very small, making a very solid packing box.
A. Janne: if this was in Briagolong maybe it was the Mennen family – will try to think of the name of the only other dutch family in Briagolong
A. Linda: Hi Janne – I don’t know. I bought it at Feeleys in Maffra in the mid 1970s. A few families spring to mind.
A. Jan: Linda the Dutch luggage sounds amazing we could ask our curators and get back to you or contact members of the Dutch community.
A. Linda: Thank you – I am looking for a home for it, and need to know if it is common or otherwise.
A. IHM: Here’s the link to the 2 photos of Linda’s Dutch luggage :: |
A. Linda: Hi IH (Cassie or Ben?) – the links look different, but go to the same place.
A. IHM: All fixed now Linda 🙂
A. Linda: You guys continue to amaze me! 🙂

Comment: Carmel: One of my distant cousins has a chest of drawers that came from England with our ancestors. It is almost 5 ft high, we are told the bottom drawer was for the babies to sleep in which I had heard of before. Such a beautiful piece.
A. Phillip: @Carmel great story Carmel although I haven’t heard that myself
A. Carmel: Phill the drawers were left to the daughter in his will, I have photos of it!
A. Phillip: It would be great to see them Carmel. You can email them to
A. Carmel: Shall do
A. Janne: As a baby in 1920 my mother slept in a drawer and there was no lack of money for a cot.

Q. From Anne: I can’t find my Sarah Howe from Ireland or my Martin Johannasen from Norway I suspect they may have gone to Victoria first since I’ve checked NSW and QLD they came over at different times and I’ve found no marriage or anything for them either but the spelling back then was rather rough as well any help or suggestions appreciated Martin I don’t know if either were convicts could never find them on any lists ? Big mystery.
A. Phillip: @Anne Hi Anne it is always a tricky one as often in that time period names were not often recorded correctly. You would best to try the PROV website were you can see most names of arrivals from the 1839 through to 1923. Again each State in that time period looked after their own records so there is no harm in trying WA and SA.

Q. From IHM: Hi Jan and Phillip, what would be your top tips for using the Museum Victoria collections?
A. Phillip: The Immigration Museum website is full of interesting collection items, stories, images and video material exploring all aspects and themes associated with Australia’s migration story and in particular Victoria’s rich immigration history. My Tip: If you have a particular topic in mind you can simply add it to the search engine of the homepage and you will be provided with a number of different items that exist online. If you can’t find what you’re looking for and need assistance send us an email to and one of our staff members will assist you.
A. Carmel: I visited there last year, worth the tour!
A. Phillip: Everyday day at 2.30pm and well worth the visit
A. Jan:  If you are interested in researching immigration from the teaching and learning point of view then this is the best place to start for the programs we offer Online resources like Origins And the Immigration Timeline are wonderful.

Q. From IHM: Hi Phil, what is your favourite collection item or story you’ve found in the Immigration Museum collection? What do the kids like the most when they visit for school, Jan?
A. Phillip: My favourite item on display at the moment is located in our Immigration Discovery Centre and is the small O’Shea Diary. The diary was kept by male Irish immigrant M.P. O’Shea, recording his voyage from Castlecomer, Ireland to Melbourne via Dublin and Liverpool in 1859. The diary tells the story of a voyage of adversity, describing illness, drunken passengers, and scarcity of provisions, as well as early struggles in the new colony. It focuses on shipboard conditions, including poor and insufficient food, drunken assaults on female passengers, seasickness and subsequent summary justice, as well as attempts by O’Shea to gain compensation after the voyage. It’s an interesting historical item that truly gives a fascinating account of early migration by sea. By clicking on the above link you can also view a pdf. transcript of the entire diary or see it on display at the Immigration Museum.
A. Phillip:
A. Jan: Students love the ship in the Journeys gallery and often that’s because it’s very interactive they can climb into the bunks of the 19th century clipper
A. IHM: I think I’d love the Journeys Gallery! Thanks for sharing Jan.
A. Jan: Another object students really connect to is Cuc Lam’s suitcase as we tell her story in one of our most popular school education programs
A. Linda: Incredible story, how sad for her sister and her family

Q. From Patrice: Hi all I am interested in what Williamstown was like in 1850’s as the ship Dragoon which carried my ancestors was the first to disembark passengers here instead of Melbourne. Would like to see a photo and description of the town at this time to write up what they would have experienced. Any ideas where I could look please?
A. Phillip: @Patrice Hi Patrice a great resource for this type of information is TROVE which gives newspaper articles, documents and photographs relevant to many locations around Melbourne. Williamstown also has a very vibrant historical society which would be worth contacting.

Q. From IHM: Another great Q&A, thanks Phillip and Jan. Do you want to tell us what do you have in the pipeline that we should be excited about before you go?
A. Phillip: In October as part of our involvement with Seniors Week 6th October – 13th October the Immigration Museum will present a seminar “Discover your British family history at the Immigration Museum” Friday 11th October 1:00pm – 3:00pm. Presented by Immigration Museum, State Library of Victoria, National Archives Australia and Public Records Office of Victoria. Many Australians are descendants of British migrants. Discover how to find records relating to your family’s history of arriving and settling in Australia. Presented by a panel of experts who will discuss key material that can assist you with your search using historical records, post World War 2 Immigration records, historical newspapers, documents, passenger lists and various online resources. Bookings essential.
A. Phillip: Thank you everyone, please visit us at the Immigration Museum.
A. Linda: Really been wanting to get there – remember it from before you moved in – but after it was restored. Thank you for tonight.

Question asked before the session: 

Q. From June: We can access shipping passenger lists for NSW arrivals (copies of originals) online with NSW state records. Why can’t we do the same for Victorian shipping?
A. Tracey: June some of the early ships for Port Phillip are on NSW records.
A. June: Not the one I want, which is possible for my great grandmother. “morning Light” 1857
A. Karen: June Johnston 1857 or 1867? See
A. Karen: and an ancient discussion on rootsweb: which is free, and if you Goog-search ‘Morning Light (Ship)’, you get several references to diaries and other stuff from companies and passengers, held in the State Lib of Vic, Nat Lib of Aust, and other places. This material hasn’t been digitised (and probably won’t ever be, or not in our lifetimes, LOL)
A. June: Yes the list is there, in Vic Archives & Ancestry, I have it but want the ship list as written same as I can get for ships in NSW bounty ships. Morning Light came to Vic in 1857. I have Rev Fraser and family which I think my G grandmother came with as nursemaid. I think she is the Mary aged 16. The actual ship list says who they are and relationship, where they come from etc
A. June:  From Liverpool 8/8/1857 arrived 2/11/1857 fische plate 135 page 016 Morning Light – Unassisted Inwards Passenger List.
A. Phillip: The Immigration Passenger Lists for arrivals in Victoria between 1852 and 1923 are kept by the Public Record Office of Victoria. The indexes for these lists can be found on their website at


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