VU Special Collections - How to access and use: Archival material

How to use Special Collections archives


Do your Homework. The more details you have about your research subject, the easier it will be to interrogate the archival materials.


Locate the box list (finding aid) for the archival materials via the VU Library Catalogue, or the Special Collections Library Guide


Box, Series and Folders. The box lists generally give some background and descriptive information followed by a summary index detailing the box contents, by series and folder. Single items will not be catalogued individually. 


Arranged chronologically. Contents of series are generally arranged from oldest to newest, so having an idea of ‘when’ can be as important as ‘what’ you are interested in.


Get in touch with the Special Collections. Email to make a time to come and view the archival material. Provide collection, box and series information to help us locate your research material.


Care of Archival Material.  Maintain material in original order. By their nature, archival materials are unique and often fragile, they must be handled with care. No pens; only grey lead pencil. Be sure to bring your camera to record your research. No flash!

Several of the VU Special Collections have archival material. There is also some stand-alone material. This page contains links to the 'box lists of the material'

Link to Archive information


AETA (Australia-East Timor Association) Archive

Link to box list on VU catalogue.

This 2022 donation sits within the Timor-Leste Collection

There are seventy seven (77) boxes and a selection of posters. This material was donated by the Australia-East Timor Association (AETA) which was established in 1975, following occupation of East Timor by Indonesia. The archive collection includes AETA material including the organisation itself, their activities and actions, and correspondence. There is also non-AETA material relating to other organisatations and activists. 

"The Australia-East Timor Association (AETA) was established in 1975, following occupation of East Timor by Indonesia, as an information, solidarity and networking organisation to support the struggle for independence of East Timor. East Timor achieved independence in 2002 after 24 years of occupation following a UN-supervised referendum in 1999."(AETA 2021 Annual Report)

The collection is sectioned into AETA and non-AETA material and organised into series:

  • AETA - ACET (Australian Coalition for East Timor
  • AETA - Actions
  • AETA - Admin - Finance 
  • AETA - Admin - Members 
  • AETA - Admin - Misc
  • AETA - Correspondence
  • AETA - Minutes/Meetings
  • AETA - Publications
  • AETA - Realia
  • Non-AETA - Activists - Australia
  • Non-AETA - Activists - International
  • Non-AETA - Articles, Backgrounders
  • Non-AETA - East Timorese
  • Non-AETA - Governments - Australia
  • Non-AETA - Governments - International 
  • Non-AETA - Media - Australia
  • Non-AETA - Media - International
  • Non-AETA - NGOs Australia
  • Non-AETA - Parties, Parliaments Aust and International
  • Non-AETA - Solidarity Groups (Australia)

Archival Papers of Neville Hill

Link to box list on VU catalogue.

"Neville Hill was a union organiser with the Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) and its successor metal industry unions, a trade union trainer, a pacifist and community activist. The son of Percy Hill, a pioneer of the Sheet Metal Workers’ Union, Neville Hill became a union organiser with the AEU in 1960, following 20 years of shop floor activism as a blacksmith at the Newport Railway Workshops. Hill was widely respected as a skilled negotiator, and a “union official committed to the rank and file.” (Hill p. 293). As a union organiser at the Altona Petrochemical Complex from 1962 to 1982, Hill was a key figure in the campaign for the 35 hour week. After months of struggle, including prolonged lockouts and strikes at Union Carbide and BF Goodrich, a 35 hour week 9 day fortnight started from 1 August 1981. The Union Carbide “sit in” strike was the longest factory occupation in Australian history. This successful campaign led to the 35 hour week spreading throughout other industries. Hill went on to work with the Trade Union Training Authority (TUTA) from 1983-1991, as a guest presenter and resource person for TUTA training courses run for trade union officials and shop stewards at the Clyde Cameron College, Albury Wodonga. Bringing his long industrial relations experience to TUTA, Hill “played a very positive role in courses…and was also a great conduit to a wide range of union officials such that much greater use was made of the College.” (Series 15/2) Neville Hill died on 13 March 1992 aged 76. " - box list

These papers have sixteen series: 1. Neville Hill's daily notebooks and organiser's notebooks -- 2. Neville Hill organiser's documents c.1960s-1980s -- 3. Altona Petrochemical Complex Shorter Hours (35 Hour Week) Campaign, incl. Union Carbide Sit In, Goodrich dispute -- 4. Altona Petrochemical complex, post 1981 -- 5. TUTA course kits -- 6-13 Neville Hill subject/research files -- 14. Neville Hill and Hill family -- 15. Nevllle Hill biographical information -- 16. Artefacts.

Union of Australian Women 

Link to box list on VU catalogue.

The Union of Australian Women (UAW) was established in 1950 with its stated aims being to advance the status of women as citizens, workers and mothers, to improve the life of women and their families and the well-being of children in a world free from war. The UAW is a non-party political organisation open to all women who agree with its aims and program and takes up issues of concern to women in an active military way ranging from discussions, letter writing through to demonstrations. The UAW has worked closely with the trade union movement and has been involved in many campaigns around issues including peace, price control, women's health and equal pay.

The Archives of the UAW contain Committee documents, correspondence, conference papers, UAW publications including materials relating to campaigns and activism, biographical information of members, ephemera and realia.

Ray Verrills (Archival papers of Ray Verrills)

Link to box list on VU catalogue.

Part of the Verrills Collection.

"This collection comprises material used by Dr. Ian Syson in the course of his research on the Realist Writers groups and their publications. The papers include copies of Ray Verrills’ personal correspondence and letters and documents relating to the writing, politics and philosophy of the Realist Writers and their journal published as The Realist Writer and The Realist. This collection also includes copies of letters written to and by Dorothy Hewett c1960-1990. Ian Syson’s research was carried out in the 1990s and donated to the Victoria University Library’s Special Collection in 2015." (box list)

This collection is divided into four series:

  • Series 1: Ray Verrills correspondence from Europe, 1966
  • Series 2: Syson research papers and correspondence with some key people from the Realist Writers Group
  • Series 3: Realist writers’ groups and publications – correspondence
  • Series 4: Dorothy Hewett letters

Ray Verrills archival papers [manuscript]

Link to box list on VU catalogue
These papers were created by Ray Verrills and detail his time as editor of The Realist Writer, the journal of the Sydney Realist Writers Group. The papers are mainly correspondence with well-known and lesser known Australian writers of the time.

There are 6 boxes of papers in 3 series:

  • Correspondence with individual writers: Box 1 - 4
  • Miscellaneous Correspondence – The Realist Writer: Box 5
  • Administration of The Realist Writer: Box 6

Archival papers of John McLaren 

Link to box list on VU catalogue

Part of the John and Shirley McLaren Collection.

There are seventy two (72) boxes and three (3) filing cabinets of archival material dating from around the mid 1940s to 2005, received in two major accessions. The 1st accession comprised 50 boxes and 3 filing cabinets. The 2nd accession (22 boxes) was processed in 2007 and has been physically incorporated into and listed with the 1st accession.

Archives in the 1st accession principally reflect the research interests of Professor McLaren during his time at Victoria University and contain some private papers which include correspondence. There are also administrative papers relating to his professorship at Victoria University and his dealings with the University in relation to the Arts Faculty. The 2nd accession includes a new series (Series 7) of papers relating to his English Teaching prior to Victoria University.

The collection includes manuscript proofs of John McLaren’s publications, with corrections and annotations. The 2nd accession includes manuscript proofs and working papers from his most recent publications (2003 and 2005).

There are seven main series. These are:

  • Personal papers - Correspondence (Box A1 to A10 and filing cabinets 1-3)
  • VU related material (Box B1 to B21) 
  • Australia Studies Centre (Box C1 and C2)
  • Manuscripts/Writing (Box D1 to D20)
  • Extra-curricular activities (Box E1 to E3)
  • Miscellaneous and ephemera (Box F1 to F12)
  • English Teaching 1966 – 1971 (Box G1 to G3)

Kensington Community Archival Papers

Listing of archive boxes not currently available. Link to VU catalogue

  • Four archive boxes
  • Includes interviews, written histories and tapes documenting the community groups active in Kensington from 1975-1995.

Kensington History of Community Organisations Project documents and videos 1975-1995. The material was donated in 1996 by Lesley Hoatson.

Macauly Community Enterprise Network Co-operative Archival Papers

[Listing of archive boxes not currently available. Link to VU catalogue.

  • Seven archive boxes 
  • Includes minutes, reports, financial records and publications of the Co-operative

Ruth and Maurie Crow

Link to box list on VU catalogue.

Summary of Series

Ruth Crow’s original order has been retained, but some artificial series have been created where the order was not discernible. Series numbers have been imposed.

  Ruth and Maurie Crow
1 Biographical information: Ruth Crow and Maurie Crow
2 Crow Family: Papers and personal correspondence
3 Publications and talks by Ruth Crow and Maurie Crow 
4 Publications by Ruth Crow and Maurie Crow “Master files”
  Crow Collection Association
5 Crow Collection Association Incorporation
6 Crow Collection Association Interim Committee 
7 Crow Collection Association Committee of Management 
8 Crow Collection Association Reports/Documents
9 Crow Collection Association Submissions for Funding
10 Crow Collection Association: Masters
11 Crow Collection Association Correspondence 
12 Crow Collection Association Financial Management
13 Crow Collection Association Membership/Mailing Lists
14 Crow Collection Association Publications: Ecoso journal
15 Crow Collection Association Publicity
16 Crow Collection Association Project Documents: Metro 2000.
17 Crow Collection Association Project Documents: History of Children’s Services. 
18 Crow Collection Association Project Documents: Services for Older People. 
19 Crow Collection Association Project Documents: What Sort of Society do we want? 
20 Crow Collection Association Project Documents: Housing Expo. 
21 Crow Collection Association Project Documents: The Right to the City.
22 Crow Collection Association Miscellany
  Crow Collection: Indexes/Catalogues
23 Crow Collection Indexes: Prepared by Ruth Crow
24 Crow Collection Library Indexes: Prepared by VU Library/Ruth Crow
  Crow Collection Library: Contents
25 “Browsing Collection” Research/Subject Files – Listed/indexed by Ruth Crow/VU Library
26 “Browsing Collection” Research/Subject Files – not listed/indexed by Ruth Crow/VU Library
27 Ruth Crow Working Files
28 Publications, Miscellaneous
29 Photographs
30 Audiocassettes
31 Artefacts
32 Banners
33 Talk Aids, Posters, Maps

Griffiths Papers

Listing of archive boxes not currently available.

Description: Campaign for a University for the Western Region] 1985-89. Correspondence files, subject files, media clippings, publications relating to Alan Griffith's campaign to establish Victoria University of Technology as a University for the Western Region of Melbourne.

Alan Griffiths was Member for Maribyrnong from 1983 to March 1996. He was Minister for Resources 1990 to March 1993; Minister for Tourism December 1991 to March 1993; Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development from March 1993 until his  resignation from the Ministry on 22 January 1995. While a backbencher, Griffiths campaigned for the establishment of VUT, including preparing a joint submission, with Ian Baker, to the Commonwealth and Victorian Ministers for Education Joint Federal-State Working party on Higher Education in the Western Suburbs [1989].

Western Region Centre for Working Women (WRCWW) 

Listing of archive boxes not currently available.

"The Western Region Centre for Working Women was established in 1976, and has worked with women workers in manufacturing industries on areas such as health and safety, union education and identification of priority issues for women workers. The aim of the Centre's work is to develop an overview of the situation of women workers, to identify priority issues, and work intensively with women workers to investigate and take up those issues. The Centre has also developed a process of contact, communication and organization at the workplace and in the community ... The Centre has encouraged women to exercise their rights as workers ... and has worked towards the active participation of migrant women in their unions ... " (Source: "Health and safety: women workers on the shop-floor speak out!" 1988).