Category Archives: Collections

Eltham’s first Rate Books handed over to Public Record Office Victoria (PROV)

The original Shire of Eltham was founded in 1871. Prior to its founding, the district was managed by the Eltham District Road Board, which was established in 1856. The first rate assessment commenced in 1857 for the year ending October 14, 1858.

The honour of being recorded with the first assessment went to a farm of 110 cultivated acres at Lower Plenty, owned by John Porter and occupied by Albert Baines. It was assessed at 6d/acre providing for a rate income of £2 15s.

Eltham Road District; Assessment for the Year ending October 14th, 1858

In July 2017, officers at the Shire of Nillumbik discovered some early Eltham Road District Assessment books and donated them to the Eltham District Historical Society. We were very excited as we soon realised the seven volumes handed over to us were the district’s first six years of rate assessments. This was a unique and significant record of early settlers in the pre-Shire of Eltham. They immediately became one of the oldest and most valuable items in our collection.

An article on page 5 in the Eltham and Whittlesea Shires Advertiser, Friday, 21 November, 1941 titled: ‘District’s Early History‘ states: “The first rate book which is still in existence at the Shire Office is for the year ending October 14, 1858 and is probably the best record possible to indicate the development of the district. At the time properties were rated as follows: Cultivated land. 6d. per acre; pasture land, 1d. per acre: estimated annual value of buildings, etc., 6d in the (pound). The total amount of rate recorded for the year was £153/14/8. Properties were described as being situated at Lower Plenty, Yarra Yarra, Eltham, Lower Eltham, Kangaroo Ground, Yarra Flats, Diamond Creek and the Yarra.”

Given the precious nature of this collection, priority was given to digitise the rate books and place them in suitable archival storage to minimise further handling. Subsequent discussion amongst our Collections team arrived at the conclusion that the most appropriate home for this valuable record was the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV), the archive of the State Government of Victoria and who are charged with archiving and caring for all Government related records. An approach was made to PROV and the air of excitement was palpable, just as it had been for us. These records completed their collection of rate assessment books for Eltham.

At a small ceremony held Friday, April 20 at the Local History Centre, Eltham, members of the Society and our Collections team, along with Ms. Vicki Ward, MP for Eltham, presented the seven volumes for 1858-1863 along with the complete set of digital files to Mr. David Taylor, Community Archives Manager and Mr. Charlie Farrugia, Senior Collection Advisor, Public Record Office Victoria.

L-R: Jim Connor (EDHS President), Charlie Farrugia (PROV), Vicki Ward (MP for Eltham), Peter Pidgeon (EDHS Vice President) and David Taylor (PROV); 20 April 2018

“Thank you to the Historical Society for providing us with Eltham’s earliest known rate records. The receipt of these records means that a complete set for the district is now available for researchers to access from the state archives alongside other districts across Victoria. Rate books are a valuable resource for family and property researchers and are amongst our most popular records for those who want to know more about the history of their home. It’s fantastic to be able to add these early books from 1858-1863 to our collection,” David Taylor, Community Archives Manager, Public Record Office Victoria (pictured far right).

Society Vice President, Peter Pidgeon said that whilst the Society was reluctant to see the rate assessment volumes go, it was the right thing to do as they are now re-united with their brothers and sisters and Public Record Office Victoria was best equipped to care for them in a climate controlled environment for perpetuity.

Ms. Vicki Ward, MP for Eltham, with Eltham District’s first rate assessment book for the year ending October 14, 1858 at the Local History Centre, 728 Main Road, Eltham; 20 April 2018
Ms. Vicki Ward, MP for Eltham and Mr. David Taylor, Community Archives Manager, Public Record Office Victoria inspect Eltham’s earliest rate assessment books; 20 April 2018.

This is another example of the extended reach the Society has been able to achieve in being able to catalogue and share our collection via Victorian Collections.

The Society will continue to retain the digital version of these records in our catalogue on Victorian Collections, which are fully accessible as per the following links.

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1858

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1859

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1860 (Version 1)

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1860 (Version 2)

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1861

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1862

Eltham Road District; Assessment, For the Year ending Oct. 14th, 1863

 

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Editorial: Identity Theft; Are You A Witness To It?

In March 2017, in recognition of Eltham District Historical Society’s 50th Anniversary, a small group of volunteer members commenced the immense task of digitising the Society’s collection. The purpose was two-fold; to ensure its preservation in case of disaster and  catalogue it on Victorian Collections in order to share our local history with the extended community. This has only been made possible by the generosity of a handful of members who have personally donated thousands of dollars to purchase the equipment, as well as hundreds of hours each of their own time to scan, process and catalogue the images. In just under a year, this small group have created almost 12,000 digital records and catalogued almost 6,200 items on Victorian Collections; freely available for the public to access and appreciate.

We are very much aware that as soon as you upload something to the Internet, someone will take it for their own personal use. That is the nature of the beast we deal with, especially social media where it is a two-edged sword in getting the story out but also having your work taken for granted. For this very reason, many historical societies are reluctant to share their collections. Up until now, Eltham District Historical Society has resisted the placement of watermarks on our images, as some societies do, and which was more common place a decade ago with the major museums,  the National and State Libraries.

Recently our attention was drawn to an individual who had downloaded a number of images specific to one of the districts we cover (Eltham, Eltham North, Research, Kangaroo Ground, Montmorency, Briar Hill and Lower Plenty) and who had then uploaded them to a Facebook group without any acknowledgement of the source of the images. Now we applaud that this individual clearly has an interest in our local history (why not join the Society?) but by not acknowledging the source of the images, he has denied us and the members of that group the ability to engage with each other and share more stories, helping to capture and preserve that local knowledge. In this particular instance, the images had only been catalogued and uploaded to Victorian Collections less than 24 hours earlier. One image we had been preparing for use in our popular #ThrowbackThursday post that week but this individual had stolen our ‘surprise and delight’ moment, at least for now, and a substitution had to be arranged.

The images taken were all subject to protection under Australian Copyright law. This individual and in turn Facebook via its group had breached the photographer’s copyright. Any image taken since January 1, 1955 is protected under copyright law. In the case of photos within our collection that remain in copyright, Eltham District Historical Society has either a full or limited license to use the images. This license is not transferable, so taking those images and republishing them is theft; identity theft. Even when photographs are no longer within copyright and considered to be in the public domain, Australian Copyright law still maintains that the artist/photographer is credited under the Moral Rights requirement.

Upon investigation, it was found that over the past three months, this individual had taken approximately 100 images from our collection and re-posted them. Never once did they acknowledge the source of the images, the photographer or whether they were still in copyright. People could mistakenly believe that these images were the personal property of the individual who posted them and not the result of significant efforts undertaken by a band of dedicated volunteers.

To take someone else’s images without acknowledgement is identity theft; it is immoral and in some situations a blatant breach of copyright law.

The administrator of the group was contacted and informed of this situation. We were pleased to see the offending posts were all removed within two days of notification.

Our volunteers have donated significant amounts of money and time to share these collections. To simply come along and take the images  to upload somewhere else without permission or any accreditation as to the source of the image or the photographer is disrespectful of our volunteers and their efforts as well as the donors of these images. It is disheartening and demoralising and curtails their enthusiasm to continue with this work. It also has the potential to curb future donations of material to the Society as donors may place restrictions on the use of their material and do not wish to see it posted all over the Internet without proper credit.

We are happy for our images to be shared but we want to be part of the discussion. The best way to share them is simply copy the link from our catalogue record and paste it into the Facebook post. Perhaps even tag us “@elthamhistory” in a comment. It could not be easier. Facebook automatically posts a thumbnail image for people to view and clicking on it will take you directly to the catalogue entry in Victorian Collections where more information may be found. It also helps facilitate our engagement with group members who may be interested in the image and have requests for further information.

Unfortunately, instances of this type of identity theft are still occurring. Have you witnessed examples? Have you seen posts on social media and wondered where did that image come from? Call it out and ask the person who posted it to provide the actual source of the image and the name of the photographer where possible. If you are an administrator to one of these social media groups, perhaps consider adding a group rule, pinned to the top of your page, requesting all images to have appropriate accreditation attached; source (with link where possible) and name of photographer. Many Facebook groups already have these rules in place and some even restrict images from being made public until the required information is provided.

As such, we feel that if we wish to continue sharing our collection, we have no choice but to watermark every image in future. A classic case of a few individuals spoiling it for everyone.

Please don’t steal our identity; share the link instead, and in doing so, share the love for our shared local history.

February Meeting – A stroll down Memory Lane 50 years ago; 14th Feb. 8pm

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

Wednesday, 14th February at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Looking north along the west side of Main Road through the shopping centre, Eltham, February 1968. Shows the pedestrian crossing to the Railway Station and car parking. (From the collection of Eltham District Historical Society)

All are welcome to come along to our first meeting of the year to be held Wednesday, 14th February, 8:00 p.m. at the Senior Citizen’s Centre and our 303rd meeting since the Shire of Eltham Historical Society was formally established in October 1967.

Through the magic of Historypin we plan to travel back in time, 50 years to February 1968. Big changes to the township were afoot with the pending duplication of Main Road. A series of approximately 50 photos were taken in February 1968 by an unknown person of the section of Main Road planned for duplication, commencing at Pitt Street and traveling towards Research through the shopping centre, finishing just past Elsa Court.

These images now form our first showcase collection on Historypin, an online tool which combines with Google Street View to transition between views from ‘Then’ and ‘Now’.

At our meeting we will introduce this Historypin collection and view a number of the key images. The intention for this meeting is to provide a two-way discussion; so comments, personal recollections and corrections are most welcome as we take a Valentine Day’s walk down Main Road together.

As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.

ThrowbackThursday: Weekly Garbage Service

#ThrowbackThursday – Who remembers the old galvanised steel garbage bin? Who still has one?

Hazard to Garbage Collectors (Damaged bin, Sharp Objects in plastic bags)

Today we time travel back to the 80s to celebrate the garbo man; a person whom we got to know and say g’day to – to a time when the garbo man left you a Xmas card and you left him a slab. None of these sanitised, oversized wheelie bins and trucks where the garbo man operates in a safe, climate controlled environment. Where’s the challenge in that when he can wrestle with a beat up old tin can or a broken plastic one on his shoulder and goodness knows what spikey, smelly things lurking in that green or black plastic bag just waiting to spill all over him. And when you ask how business is, his cheery response invariably is, “It’s picking up!”

Weekly Garbage Service, Shire of Eltham, 1980s

If you would like to see more photos from our collection of around the Shire of Eltham in the 80s then make sure to drop into Eltham Library throughout June and check out the display. We welcome any feedback especially in helping identify some of the people.

February Meeting – Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photo Collection

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

10th February at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

Our Society is fortunate to have access to digitised images in the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection, through a joint project with the Yarra Plenty Regional Library, funded by a State Government Local History grant. The historic photograph collection was established by the Eltham Shire Council in 1971 and is held at the Eltham Library.

At our first Society meetings in 2014 and 2015 we received positive feedback when we presented and discussed selected images from this collection.

Hon. W.H. Everard, MLA, speaking at the opening of the Eltham Swimming Pool. Late Crs Braid and Kirkland cut the ribbon at opening ceremony of swimming pool. (1936)
Hon. W.H. Everard, MLA, speaking at the opening of the Eltham Swimming Pool. Late Crs Braid and Kirkland cut the ribbon at opening ceremony of swimming pool. (1936) – Image source YPRL

Accordingly this year for our meeting on Wednesday 10th February 2016, at 8.00pm at the Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, we will again choose a number of photographs of local interest. This time we will consider some images that are unusual or not often viewed so as to encourage comments and contributions from members and visitors.

Introduction and commentary on the pictures will be provided by Russell Yeoman and some other members. Russell has been involved with the collection since its inception when some were used in the 1971 Shire publication: Pioneers and Painters. As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.

As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.

Photographs from the Eltham Pioneers Collection

Unveiling of the Obelisk, corner of Main Road and Bridge Street, Eltham

Eltham District Historical Society Meeting

11 February 2015 at 8pm

Eltham Senior Citizens’ Centre, Library Place, Eltham

In 2013 our Society was involved in a project for digitisation of the Shire of Eltham Pioneers Photograph Collection. This was joint project with the Yarra Plenty Regional Library and was funded by a State Government Local History grant. It involved the digitisation of the historic photo collection established by Eltham Shire Council in 1971 and held at the Eltham Library. This project involved some 400 items and concluded the digitisation of the complete collection started earlier by the library. The project was co-ordinated by Liz Pidgeon from YPRL.

The agenda item for our February 2014 meeting was a presentation comprising about 40 images from this collection. For our February meeting this year we will show a further 40 or so slides. Pictures will be selected for their visual interest or for the story that they tell. They will be a representative sample from the whole of the former Shire of Eltham, extending from Lower Plenty to Kinglake.

Introduction and commentary on the pictures will be provided by Maureen Jones, Russell Yeoman and other members. Russell has been involved with the collection since its inception and Maureen has assisted with the recent project. It is hoped that the presentation will inspire comment from members on the photographs or more broadly on their subject matter.

As at all of our meetings, new members and visitors are most welcome.