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Records of the Melbourne Orphan Asylum

Identifier(s): MS 13168


Scope and Content

Comprises case files, ca. 1858-1959; minute books, 1845-1851, 1858-1863, 1882-1892, 1899-1935, 1938-1945, and 1948-1954; annual reports, 1854/1855, 1858-1919, 1921/1922, 1931-1952, and 1954-1956; scrapbooks, 1923-1976; admissions book, ca. 1850-1986; journal and letter book, 1858-1861; official register of inmates, 1887-1975; reports on apprentices, 1913-1917; account book, ca. 1917-1955; wills and other legal documents; war medals; and printing blocks.


  • 1845-1986


  • Melbourne Orphan Asylum (Organization)

Conditions Governing Use note

Restricted. Persons wishing to view material must contact OzChild, P.O. Box 1312 South Melbourne, Vic. 3205 who handle all requests. OzChild will then liase directly with the State Library on the patron's behalf. Material more than 99 years old may be viewed without permission. Volumes containing dates pre and post 90 years old will not be issued.

Historical Information

The St James’ Visiting Society was founded by a group of Anglican men in April 1845. In June that year, some Anglican women established the St James’ Dorcas Society. From 1849 onwards, the Dorcas Society involved itself in the provision of residential care for children in need. In 1851, the Dorcas Society’s name changed to the St James’ Orphan Asylum and Visiting Society. When the decision was made in 1853 to separate the provision of residential care from emergency support for families, the name Melbourne Orphan Asylum was adopted. The name changed to the Melbourne Orphanage in 1926, to the Melbourne Family Care Organisation in 1965, and to Family Action in 1987. Family Action later became part of Oz Child. The Asylum provided residential care for Protestant children at its premises in South Melbourne from 1856 to 1878 and in Brighton from 1878 to 1963. Many of the children had one living parent who was unable to work and look after his or her family as well. From 1876, the Asylum also gave financial assistance to families so that they could ‘board out’ children i.e. keep their own children at home or provide foster care. Many of the twentieth century case files in this collection contain detailed reports prepared by the Charity Organisation Society. The COS changed its name to the Citizens Welfare Service of Victoria about 1948. The archives of the Citizens Welfare Service of Victoria are held by The University of Melbourne Archives. Access is partly restricted.


9.52 linear metres (56 boxes)




More information may be available about the provenance of this collection. Contact the Library for more information

  • Children -- Melbourne. -- Victoria
  • Orphanages -- Archives. -- Melbourne -- Victoria
  • Orphans -- Melbourne. -- Victoria


  • Melbourne Orphan Asylum (Organization)
Guide to the Records of the Melbourne Orphan Asylum
Description rules
Aacr2, Lcsh
Language of description
Script of description

Repository details

Part of the Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library Victoria Repository

328 Swanston Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000 Australia
03 8664 7002