The University of Melbourne Archives was established in July 1960, initially to collect and preserve records relating to the University and to business and business people for the purposes of historical research. The University's own records date from its foundation in 1853 and as well as administrative records, records of student societies and the personal papers of many former academic staff are available for research.
The business collections include the records of wholesalers and retailers, factories and foundries, solicitors and architects, along with the records of some of Australia's largest mining companies.
From 1973 the Archives began to collect trade union and other labour history material; more than one hundred trade unions are now represented in the Archives' collections. During the same period, the Archives began also to collect records of professional, community, women's, peace and political organisations.
In 2017, the University of Melbourne Archives undertook a project to improve discovery and access to records about people who grew up in orphanages and other out of home 'care' facilities in their collections. This included the creation of an online subject guide to Child Welfare records held in the Archives.
While there is no one collection at the Archives that contains all the records related to Victoria's child welfare history and children in out-of-home 'care', there are records contained in various collections that are relevant to Care Leavers. Some community groups had connections to people at the University of Melbourne and so transferred records there. Academics' papers often document activities in the wider community as well as University teaching and administration. For example, there are children's case files in the papers of social work academics and researchers such as Leonard Tierney and Teresa Wardell.
Care Leavers can request to see records directly to the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA), or via a support service. UMA coordinates with Find & Connect Support Services to provide extra services for Care Leavers and their families. As such, UMA encourages Care Leavers and their families to apply for access to the restricted records via the support service in their state.
Some collections are restricted. Restricted records contain personal, medical and/or sensitive information, and researchers may be required to meet special access conditions. This might include seeking permission from the person or organisation that created the records and in some cases UMA will ask researchers to sign a Deed of Undertaking to protect people's privacy. Requests for records which are open can be made via the University of Melbourne Reading Room.
Sources used to compile this entry: 'Child Welfare Records: Subject Guide', in University of Melbourne Archives, The University of Melbourne, June 2018, https://archives.unimelb.edu.au/resources/child-welfare-records.
Prepared by: Rosemary Francis
Created: 4 October 2011, Last modified: 22 March 2021