Author: Public Record Office Victoria

Public Record Office Victoria’s PROVisualizer tool, as far as we know, is the first interactive archival data visualisation tool in Australia. It is a handy tool to get a sense of the kinds of public records PROV holds.

You can search by keyword or by government function close function Definition Functions describe the role and administrative activities of government e.g. inquests. A list of functions is similar to a subject index or thesaurus. Function information tells you which agencies have created records relating to that Function. For example, there have been two agencies responsible for the same function of registering inquests (Function 43 (VF 43) Inquests registration) the Chief Secretary's Department until 1869 and the Registrar-General's Department from 1869 to 1873. and then click through to see the series within the collection. Importantly PROVisualizer gives archivists and record keepers a taste of what the recent Records-in-Context ICA standard could look like, as it is based on a graph of entity inter-relationships as opposed to a hierarchical model.

PROVisualizer screenshot



PROVisualizer and recordkeeping

The tool has already proved useful for record keepers and academics.

Helen Harris OAM, a highly experienced researcher believes PROVisualizer will make exploring the archives close archives Definition Records considered to have continuing or permanent value that have been, or will be, transferred to the custody of an archival organisation; also used to refer to the buildings in which archival records are stored and to organisation that have responsibility for archival records. for beginners a much easier prospect enabling almost Google type searches based on keywords and topics such as http://beta.prov.vic.gov.au/provisualizer#teacher%20record__words (Teacher Record) or http://beta.prov.vic.gov.au/provisualizer#melbourne%20olympics__words (Melbourne Olympics)

“This makes PROV searches so much easier, particularly for beginners who tend to get lost in trying to follow things on the current site.  To be able to search something fairly broad, then hone in on the interconnected records and bring up the relevant Series so quickly is a major advance.” 


Changes in Victorian Government

The tool is also useful for tracking close tracking Definition Creating, capturing and maintaining information about the movement and use of records. changes to Government departments and responsibilities.

Writer, historian, researcher and educator Sarah Mirams has used PROVisualizer to explore Machinery of Government changes, for example changes to responsibilities around environment: http://beta.prov.vic.gov.au/Provisualizer#environment

“The PROVualiser gives you an understanding of how government records are shifted around and responsibilities absorbed into different parts of government. I searched under the broad theme of environment and found a very broad ranges of functions to explore further.”

For government record keepers who are particularly interested in Machinery of Government changes over time, you can filter the results by year e.g. 1850, 1900, 1950 and see the ‘explosion’ of Agencies responsible for Education in Victoria.

Another example is the search of consumer affairs, if you filter by year the PROVisualizer will take you on a journey through the administration changes in this agency. Any agency close agency Definition Any department, agency or office of the Government of Victoria can do the same.


Try the PROVisualizer and contact us

If you use the tool  or embed it into your own website (a simple copy and paste!), we’d love to hear all about it either on twitter by using the #provisualizer hashtag or by emailing asa.letourneau@prov.vic.gov.au