Melbourne Directories

The Melbourne History Workshop is excited to complete the first phase of our Melbourne Directories project, which involves the digitisation of volumes from 1857 to 1880. PDFs of the first tranche of directories can be found on our Melbourne History Resources site. The University of Melbourne’s Baillieu Library holds copies of Melbourne directories published first as Sands & Kenny’s directory (1857-59), then Sands, Kenny & Co.’s directory (1860-61) and finally as the Sands & McDougall’s directory. Information in directories reflects the expansion of the metropolis and development of its social and commercial life. They contain three types of information: alphabetical listing of surnames; property-by-property and street-by street listing across Melbourne’s suburbs; and trade and professional listings. In his entry in the Encyclopedia of Melbourne, John Lack notes their value as a vital historical mine of information: ‘Melbourne’s directories have become of inestimable value to social scientists and historians, especially given the destruction of Victorian manuscript schedules, the absence of 19th-century voters’ rolls, and the difficulty of using municipal valuation books, rate books and voter lists’. Their utility for historians and social scientists will be further enhanced in the second phase of our project as we develop more sophisticated tools of digital analysis. A huge thank you to the Social & Cultural Informatics Platform (SCIP)—in particular Dr Mitchell Harrop— and to the University Digitisation Centre.

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