The Tasmanian Archives research files: giving remote researchers access to the same research material as locals.   

Prior to the electronic submission of research enquiries, clients would mail their requests to the Archives Office of Tasmania at 91 Murray Street, Hobart.  When replying, State Archives staff kept their research notes filed in manila folders. Over time, clients occasionally added their research notes to these folders. Known internally as the Correspondence Files, these records are still used daily by Archives staff in response to visitor enquiries and when answering enquiries from remote clients.

Up until now the only way to access these files was to visit us or to submit a research enquiry. These files can now be discovered through a simple search in the Tasmanian Names Index.

What’s in the files?

In addition to information to over 5000 individuals and families, both convict and free, the research files include around 2000 subject based files on topics as diverse as:

  • Artists in Tasmania
  • Pre 1870 Army Regiments
  • Bothwell Literary Society
  • Cadbury’s
  • Dogs
  • Duels
  • Female Suffrage
  • Hobart Bridge
  • Independent Schools
  • Mt Field Nomenclature
  • Prisoners Barracks
  • Regatta, Hobart
  • Surveyors General of Tasmania

There are nine four-drawer vertical cabinets containing over 7000 files.

The size and contents of the research files are as varied as their subjects, and may include published and unpublished material.

A file may be one or two pages, or an extensive file with over 50 pages.

The contents of the files can include:

  • Correspondence from archives or library staff
  • Copies of archival files
  • Biographical information
  • Bibliographies
  • Client correspondence
  • Book chapters
  • Convict records and summaries
  • Copies or originals of diagrams, maps and plans
  • Family trees
  • Incumbents
  • Letters (19th century)
  • Manuscripts
  • Newspaper and Journal articles
  • Obituaries
  • Photographs
  • Postcards
  • Lists of pictures and or art works on a given topic
  • Publications
  • Scrapbooks
  • Archivist Miss Lucy Wayn’s notes

For example,

The research file for Charles Abbott is large (over 10 items) and has:

Archives correspondence, client correspondence, newspaper items, photographs and/or postcards, a family tree and a manuscript.

Whereas the research file for Abbott family (Edward Jnr) is a medium size (4-10 items) and has:

Archives correspondence, Archivist Lucy Wayn’s notes, and a newspaper article.

And the research file for Thomas Abel is small (less than four pages). It only has information relating to him as a convict.

Searching for a Research File in our names index

Search – Tasmanian Names Index   

If you want to browse all 7091 files, select Record Type: Tasmanian Archives research file in the Names Index, or click here: All of the Tasmanian Archives research files.

The Tasmanian Archives research file record in the Names Index gives a brief overview of the file and asks you to submit a research enquiry for more information. When we receive this enquiry we will then examine the file and either advise you how to access the contents of the file, or if copyright would be infringed by supply, advise you where you can obtain the original resource.

A search for your person or subject in the Names Index will now include the Tasmanian Archives research file along with all other records on that person or subject. You will recognise the research file by its filing cabinet logo.

To limit your results to research files only select Record type: Tasmanian Archives research file (you’ll need to expand your record type with View All) in your Names Index search

Fuzzy logic applies to your search results, so a search for a Tasmanian Archives research file for ‘Strang’ will return names that include Strang or are similar to Strang. The default sort is ‘most relevant’ so the record for Strang will be at the top of the results.

Your search for a person or a subject may also return a file that’s in a totally different name. This happens when they are mentioned in the file but are not the primary person or subject.

Example 1:   a search for Algernon Pilkington will find that he is included in the file for George Eagle.

The research file may also show you other files where your person or subject is mentioned. These are linked in the see also field.

Example 2: a search for Robert Lanthropp Murray will show you other files where he is mentioned in the see also field.

Robert Lathropp – see also Legal practitioners, Immigration.

‘See also’ references are linked. You can click on them to perform a search for all records related to this name or subject.

If you are interested in Robert Lathropp you can ask for both his own research file and information about him in the legal practitioners file when submitting your request for more information.

Robert Lathrop (sic) Murray also has a convict record, in which it states he arrived on the Ship Eliza. To see if we have additional information about this ship and its voyage, search the Names Index for Eliza (Ship) and refine your search under Record Type to the ‘Tasmanian Archives research file’ to get this result:

When your search for a Tasmanian Archives research file returns more than one file with the same name there is usually additional detail in the remarks field that will help you decide the file that you want.

For example, there are four research files for James Smith. Identifying information is available in the Remarks field of the entry.

We know that this James Smith was a Hotelier.

Another was known to have lived in Campbell Town

Some individuals are identified by Rank, such as James Smith the Captain.

If you are submitting a request for a file where there is more than one person with the same name, please give us any additional information that helps identify the correct one when submitting your request for more information.

Accessing the contents of the research files  

Click on the link in the Resource field: For contents submit a research enquiry. This returns our research enquiry form. Complete the Contact Details section, then in the Question Details section put:

Request for Tasmanian Archives Research File: [Names of the files]

 If there is something specific you want to know about, ask us on the enquiry form. If you want to know everything that’s in the file write, “summary please”.

We will aim to reply to your request within ten working days.

We will summarise the contents of the file and advise you on how you can get copies either online or by a copy request.  When some of the contents can be viewed online, we’ll provide the links for you. When the file is only one or two pages, we may provide you with a free scan.

If the file is larger, we will explain which parts of the file we can provide copies for and give you alternate sources for any material that’s in copyright. If a copy request is made charges may apply.

If you have any questions about the process of ordering the Tasmanian Archives Research files please contact our help desk. See here for hours and the chat line and phone numbers : Need help? Ask us! (

Have you used these files before? Let us know how they have been useful to you.

Author: Elizabeth Brown

Elizabeth Brown is a Librarian with the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives

2 thoughts on “The Tasmanian Archives research files: giving remote researchers access to the same research material as locals.   ”

  1. This is an amazing resource! I can only begin to imagine how excited some researchers will be to access this from wherever they live.

    1. Thanks Libby. We are very pleased to be able to offer this exciting new resource through the names index.

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