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Research hub attracts new following

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Local historians and researchers are now able to dig deeper into Ballarat’s rich history with an expanded document and information site at the Ballarat Research Hub at Eureka (BRHAE).

BRHAE is currently closed but Australiana Research Librarian Simon Jacks is receiving a steady stream of family and local history enquiries via email.

Established at the Eureka Centre in Ballarat, BRHAE is an exciting and innovative one-stop shop for history and genealogical research in the region.

BRHAE combines the resources and services of the Public Record Office, Victoria’s Ballarat Archives Centre, Ballarat and District Genealogical Society and the City of Ballarat’s Australiana Research Collection.

The service also provides researchers with access to public computers and printing, microfilm and microfiche collections and online databases.

Simon has enjoyed the challenge of providing research assistance and guidance to people at this time.

“Many people are stuck at home and they need a sense of purpose. Online historical research is a great way to stay busy and engage with others,” Simon said.

Most people who are reaching out to Simon are seeking guidance with their family history research, but people also are looking into the history of their historic homes.

Simon said other writers were researching Ballarat’s history to inform the fiction or non-fiction books they were writing.

“Our focus is now on giving people access to digitised information where possible and providing research support,” he said.

“While it is not possible to give access to our hard copy collections at this time, there is an enormous amount of information online. Sometimes people just need to know it’s available and how to access it.”

Simon has worked as a librarian with the City of Ballarat for 23 years and much of that time has been devoted to working with the Australiana Research Collection.

This nationally recognised collection comprises rare books, newspapers, photographs and posters that document Australia’s social history with a focus on Ballarat and the colonial period more generally.

Simon has a degree in Librarianship and a Masters degree in Military History. His main research interest is the Western Front during World War One. He is also interested in the convict and colonial period of Australian history.

Simon knows the Australiana collection intimately and when asked which item was his favourite he did not hesitate, choosing the Ballarat Avenue of Honour list of names.

“This document shows the tree number allocated to the soldier, his name, as well as the name of the Lucas girl who planted the tree.”

Simon is available to assist with basic family or local history research enquiries. More detailed research will need to wait until BRHAE reopens, but until then please direct all Australiana Research enquiries to simonjacks@ballarat.vic.gov.au

All three BRHAE partners continue to provide support and assistance to researchers.

For Ballarat Archives Centre enquiries, the Public Record Office Victoria catalogue is available to search at http://prov.vic.gov.au.

Digitised collection items are available online. Staff will continue to answer research questions submitted through their website and on social media.

Ballarat and District Genealogical services and membership enquiries should be directed through the webpage: https://www.ballaratgenealogy.org.au