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 June 2021 I have only checked and uploaded material from approximately 700 of these boxes [sigh!].


Please note that I do not have this material in my possession; it is held at the Public Record Office.   As the PRO are now phasing out photocopies,  and have a digital camera available for researchers, I will only be offering digital copies.  The various pricing options available for a copy of an individual file are:

$55 to copy up to 20 pages and deliver to you via a File Transfer system.
$60 to copy up to 20 pages, burn to a CD and post to an address in Australia.
$68 to copy up to 20 pages, copy to a USB stick and post to an address in Australia.
An additional fee would be payable for bigger files, and a discount is available for multiple orders.

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.


  1. Note the names, date and detail of the file, including the number of pages involved.
  2. 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.
  3. Remember to supply your own address, including if possible, an email address.
  4. You will be emailed when your letter arrives and again when the copies are sent. My email address is hdh1[at]ozemail.com.au (you will need to remove the ‘at’ and replace with @).

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’ entries  prior to 2016.

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