Missing People


Compiled by Helen D. Harris OAM

The details listed below were located in uncatalogued and unindexed police correspondence files held in the Public Record Office, Victoria, Australia.  These items all have one thing in common: they were written by people outside Australia, to the police department in Victoria, in an attempt to locate ‘missing’ individuals.  The persons sought could be long-lost relatives or friends; husbands or wives who had deserted their spouses; suspected bigamists; or even people who had been in Victoria and who had committed a crime while overseas.

The files contain widely differing material: some people supply only basic details about the sought person, others give a great deal of background information.  The response from the police department likewise differs enormously.  At times the department simply responded that the letter writer had supplied insufficient detail for any identification to be made; on other occasions the department went to a great deal of trouble to locate the missing person.

There are over 2,000 boxes of material covering the period 1853 to 1940; there can be up to 300 files within each box.  Many of the files relate to routine police business, but interspersed with these are files relating to missing people.  What follows is a selection of these cases only – it would be the task of a lifetime to index every file in every box. As at January 2017 I have only checked and uploaded material from approximately 530 of these boxes [sigh!].

Please note that I do not have this material in my possession; it is held at the Public Record Office.  However, for a fee of $AUS45 per file plus photocopying costs, I am willing to organise copies of a file.  Accessing these files requires a visit to the PRO, ordering the relevant box of material, locating the file, ordering a photocopy and collecting that copy about a week later.  There is also the option of obtaining a digital copy of the file, as the PRO now have a digital camera available for researchers; my fee for arranging a digital copy, burning it to a CD and posting off is $55 for up to 20 pages.  An additional fee would be payable for bigger files.  An alternative is to copy directly onto a USB stick, but I do ask an additional fee of $8 to cover the cost of these.

I am also willing to provide the reference so that a researcher can visit the PRO and view the material themselves, but do ask the minimum fee of $45 to provide this information, as I’ve spent hundreds if not thousands of hours over many years compiling the information.

When someone requested a file I have kept a note of their details, and placed a CONNECTION FOUND next to the relevant entry.  If in the future someone else requests the same file, I put the two researchers in touch with one another.  As this webpage is now over fifteen years old however, I have found that many of the older email addresses are no longer working, so have discarded those references, and the ‘Connection Found’ entry  prior to 2014.

Search Index A-E

Search Index F-L

Search Index M-Q

Search Index R-Z


1.  Note the names, date and detail of the file, including the number of pages involved.

2.  Work out the cost of photocopying, at 75c per page, (including GST) as charged by the Public Record Office.  Add $AUS45 retrieval fee for each file. (No GST charged on retrieval fee.)

3.  Either send a cheque in Australian Dollars made out to Harriland Press to PO Box 92, Forest Hill, Victoria, Australia, 3131, or email me to obtain details for a direct credit to our account. If  you wish to send a cheque in a foreign currency please allow $Aust15 bank fee. New Zealand and English orders are advised to email me for alternate arrangements.  Please include two International Reply Paid Coupons for return postage if outside Australia, (obtainable from any post office) otherwise a $2 Australian stamp if under 10 pages, $3 for more pages.

4.  Remember to supply your own address, including if possible, an email address.You will be emailed when your letter arrives and the photocopies are ordered, and again when your order has been posted to you.

5.  My email address is hdh1[at]ozemail.com.au (you will need to remove the ‘at’ and replace with @).

6.  The Public Record Office has now made a digital camera available for researchers in the search rooms, so it is possible to record the material digitally onto a USB, burn it onto a CD at home and post  it off in a padded bag.  I will undertake this alternate option for orders where there is a photograph and a file of under 20 pages, for a fee of $55.