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Community organisations

One of the major strengths of the Library's Australian Manuscripts Collection is material related to community organisations and welfare groups.

This material is mostly made up of administrative records but, in some instances, personal case files exist. The latter are usually restricted – to access them you need to obtain permission from the relevant administrative body. Case files can vary from a single line in a register to a folder including health records and school reports.

Community organisations represented in the Library include the Melbourne District Health Council, the Victorian Bush Nursing Association, the International Women’s Development Agency, and the Wandiligong Preservation Society. All provide insight into community spirit and values, as the work was often (but not always) done by volunteers. The papers of one individual, Jessie Clarke, encompass several organisations.

Welfare collections include the Melbourne Orphan Asylum, Gordon Homes for Boys and Girls, the Children’s Protection Society and the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum. These are, or have been, privately run organisations that have provided support for families. In the case of the Melbourne Orphan Asylum, such support dates back to the 1840s and as such is a rich record of communities rallying to meet a need.