Are there any Australian / NZ members who digitize files from the NAA & NZNA?

Discussion in 'Australian' started by Old Git, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Looking for an Australian chap (like our own Drew) who will take photographic images of previously identified files at the National Archives of Australia and share them with me via Dropbox.

    I used to use the NAA digital scan service but they appear to have put their prices up and two fairly slim docs (17 pages and 49 pages) are going to cost me the best part of £100 to get copied and emailed to me. I'm sure there's a market here for an Oz-Drew to cash in on?

    Anyone from Oz available for this? The files I want are in Melbourne but I'm sure they can be quickly transferred to other reading rooms in Sydney or elsewhere.

  2. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    I wasn't aware that files could be moved about between sites. I do know that the main NAA digitization service is pretty much on hold at the moment while they relocate to a new facility in Canberra. Files used to be around AU$25 each to get digitized by the main archives, amazing that the regional (state) facilities charge so much more.

    Edit - I just checked and you are right. The prices have gone up significantly across the board, I guess that is one way to pay for their new facility.


    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
  3. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Yup, surprised the heck out of me too! The prices went up last October, apparently. I used to get files copied for $19.00 Australian but now they want almost $70 Australian to copy one file! That's an outrageous leap in pricing and whilst I understand that the new facility needs to be paid for, all that will happen here is that the system will be circumvented by the more enterprising locals.

    Incidentally, it's only Canberra that is affected by the move to the new facility and it will last until July 2017. Melbourne, where my files resides, is unaffected...but still, a price increase of over 300% is more than a bit steep, I can see their revenues dipping quite significantly!

    SO, any Aussies in the Melbourne area want to make some petrol money to pay for their own trip to the NAA and maybe cover a bit extra. We need an Oz-Drew!
    Recce_Mitch and Smudger Jnr like this.
  4. spidge


    This had to eventuate sooner or later. Thank God I had all of my "difficult" files digitised when it was free. I now only peruse or copy those already digitised which hopefully will remain a constant.
  5. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    I don't know if I agree that this HAD to happen, we've all seen this price gouging happen in other areas and always it's the same short-term, money-grabbing mentality that has a long term negative effect.

    When they put the price up like this (350%) it puts people off paying it, indeed it makes it un-affordable for majority of the people (who already own these records anyway). Inevitably there arises a small group who go into business for themselves, doing the job for a lot less money. That's perfectly fine and is a good example of Capitalism and Free Market economics at work. No problem with that whatsoever, (As Dr Johnson was wont to say "only a blockhead every did anything except for money").

    However, if the long term plan is to digitize the archives as quickly as possible, to make them freely accessible and to preserve the originals from too much handling, then this is a very bad move. It would be better if they set up a dedicated digitizing teams (part-time students would be best) whose job it is to process all these requests. Set the price low to encourage massive take-up and give the students a percentage of the copying fee by way of payment. The archives then get the ongoing download fees. They may not make a lot from the copying but that's not the point of copying, if they structure it well they shouldn't lose any money either and everybody wins!

    That's the most galling thing. Over the last few years I've copied quite a few things (at $19.00 a file) associated with a research project I am heavily embedded in. However, I am also running a parallel research project for which I need some additional info and I simply failed to check if the NAA had the info I needed. Now that I have finally gotten around to it I find that they do seem to have the info I need (which is missing from Kew) but now it's three times the price!

    I think I've found a Researcher in Melbourne, ex-Job, who may be prepared to do these copies. I have pointed him to this forum and advised him to set himself up as per some of the chaps here who access the Archives at Kew for a more reasonable price than Kew themselves charge!
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2017
    alieneyes, bofors, Owen and 1 other person like this.
  6. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    I've made contact with a researcher in Oz who is prepared to make these copies for a much more reasonable price, her name is Anne and I've advised her to sign up here and post her availability.

    I hate circumventing the system like this because I do think it's a worthwhile process for us to aid in the digitization process but when they charge such extortionate fees all they do is create a market in which they can be undercut by the enterprising individual who can do this cheaply! Students, Retirees and professional researchers would all love a part-time service where they can make some money and at the same time aid the National is such a bone-headed, blinkered move to do it the way they're doing it!
  7. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Find us a Kiwi while you're at it, would you?
    Their national archive website is fantastic with all the official histories online and searchable, but I'd like a look at the original war diaries.
  8. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Click on the link below to a web page on the Kiwi Archives site. Have a look here, under "
    Extended research or consultation of records", for a couple of links to where you can find someone to undertake this work in NZ archives....

    Our Research Services - Archives New Zealand. Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

    You may have to talk to a couple of them before you can find someone comfortable with both Dropbox and Digital Cameras.
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  9. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

  10. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    Looking over the references for Independent Researchers for the Kiwi archives I see that the Genealogy website that they link to insists you join their organization before they let you see a list of the researchers.
    The Professional Historians list is open to the public and scanning through I think that Gerard S Morris or Wayne Stack are probably a good bet, see links below...

    full list of researchers here

    Our members – Page 4 – PHANZA

    Gerard's full Profile is here Profile – PHANZA

    And Wayne Stack (British and NZ Mil Hist) is here Profile – PHANZA

    Waiting for a quote from the NZ archives on a file of unknown size, if it turns out to be excessive then I may ask Gerard or Wayne to quote for a digi-cam to Dropbox service.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  11. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    I've made contact with a military historian / Researcher who lives in Wellington NZ (which is where all the Military Archives are held). His name is Peter Cooper and I was given his contact details by Wayne Stack who is on the NZ Archives list of researchers. Wayne is in Christ Church in south Island and all the Military archives are in Wellington on North Island, a 50 minute plane ride away. So, wholly unpractical for him.

    I have Peter's contact details so if anyone needs them shoot me a PM and i'll happily pass them on. I shall also endeavour to get Peter to sign up to the forum so folks can contact him direct.

    It should be noted that the NZ Archives charges $1.00 per scanned page, to PDF (about 60 pence in our money) and whilst that may not be a lot for a small file it can add up for the bigger files. But the major downside to the NZ Archives is that the record entries do not give an indication of what is in the files or how many pages there are to be copied. A quote for copy takes 15 days, (probably longer in these WWI Centenary years), and then a request to copy takes another 15 days (again probably longer at this time). So you are looking at a whole month before you actually get sight of what's in the file.

    Peter Cooper lives very near the archive and can probably get this info a lot faster than that. He's currently taking the measure of a file for me and, even though I'd said it's non-urgent, I get the sense he may do it rather quickly. Incidentally, for high res digital photographs the archive copy is infinitely more, about $30 per high res copy which works out at about £17.50, which again is not a great deal for a good, high res photograph. I rather suspect that prices will soon go up to reflect demand.
    Charley Fortnum likes this.
  12. Old Git

    Old Git Harmless Curmudgeon

    OK, a wee bit of feedback on my recent experiences of finding someone to copy files for me in both the Australian and New Zealand National Archives.

    1.) NAA, I contacted a chap listed on their website only to find he was nowhere near the Melbourne site. However, he recommended a woman to me, called Anne, who I've mentioned earlier in this thread. So I agreed a fee with Anne to copy two files in the NAA and duly paid her on the Sunday evening. She replied that she would get it done on Thursday (I hadn't asked for a quick copy and was happy to wait until she could do it, but she volunteered Thursday). So, 9:00am on our Thursday morning (which is 8:00pm on the Oz Thrusday eveinng) I check Dropbox and nothing uploaded. About 9:45 still nothing so I shoot Anne an email and ask if she managed to get those files. "Oh, no she says. Even though she pre-ordered them the Archives didn't have them ready for her when she got there. They won't be ready until Friday but she can't go back until the following Wednesday. OK, not the end of the world. The following Monday evening, her Tuesday morning, I email and ask if we're still on for Wednesday and she confirms everything is good to go and she's had confirmation of the files being ready at the NAA. So Wednesday morning 9:00am our time still no blimmin files in Dropbox, I email again. Oh, she says, I did get them but I'll upload them tomorrow. Never mind that it's a mouse click to copy some files into Dropbox and she could have done it in the time it took her to write the email! So, following morning 9:00am our time and the files begin to appear (by now she's figured out that I'm at my desk every morning at nine). I take a spin through the files and right away it's obvious that a drunken monkey with a camera could not have done a worse job! An iPad Mini has been used to take the pics and at a 45 degree angle to the desk. Some pages are restricted because of Treasury tags and the photo taker has not requested assistance from the archive staff with that. There's barely an image that's readable, what's more there was no way to distinguish one file from the's just one large mass of images.. She then emails me to say that she's sorry that SOME of them are a BIT blurred, but she promises to go back the following day to do it again and re-upload them. Finally got the new files on the Friday and when she uploaded those she deleted the old files (thankfully I'd made a backup of those). The new upload was slightly better although once again there were blurry images and it was obvious that at least some of the pages were photographed out of sequence. With the previous upload and the new upload I was finally able to cobble together a readable set of files but overall the experience was not pleasant. I'd describe it as unprofessional leaning into childishness! She made promises she didn't\couldn't keep and when she did do what she'd been contracted to do she did it in a hurried and haphazard fashion! Overall, very, very less than satisfactory and I wouldn't use her again. She has a website where she claims to be undertake genealogical research for a fee but in all conscience I would not recommend her to anyone. If you want to get something copied in the NAA and need to know who to avoid then PM me and I'll provide the details.

    2.) By contrast I also had a file copied from the NZ National Archives. I contacted Wayne whose details were on the NZ Archives Website and as he was too far away from Wellington, where my files were located. He recommended me to a chap called Peter Cooper. Peter passes the Archives on his route to, and from, work everyday and right away he offered to pop into the Archives have a look at the files and tell me what was in them, BEFORE I spent money on getting them copied! Then he quoted me a price which was really, really reasonable and said he'd go back and copy it on the Tuesday. However, he did say that some days he got stuck at the office so if he didn't get it done Tuesday it would be later in the week. As it happened he got it all done on the Wednesday and when he uploaded the images to Dropbox it was clear that here was someone who actually knew what he was doing. First image was of the Archives Request Tag (giving all the file details) and then every page, photographed in sequence and from directly above and in good lighting conditions. Not a single blurry, or unreadable image among them. Not content to have done an absolutely top class job, Peter followed this up with an email outlining a few other NZ institutions that I might contact who might prove useful in my research. Absolutely outstanding and I can't praise or recommend him highly enough...he's definitely one of us, and a bloody nice chap as well. Emails between he and I were chatty and friendly right from the off! So, if you need a NZ researcher then Peter is definitely the man you want to deal with! Shoot me a PM and I'll provide contact details!
  13. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Thanks for the review, Old Git.
    Will be in touch.
  14. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  15. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

    The following is a suggestion provided by a contact of mine, Noel, who lives in Melbourne, regarding a possible person in Melbourne to photograph documents at the National Archives in Melbourne

    Noel says
    "So far I haven’t been able to come up with a specific recommendation I’m afraid. What I did come across was the following: Archival Access Victoria

    The gentleman’s name is Mark Grealy. He appears to only work at the Public Record Office of Victoria (PROV) but as one of his specialities seems to be the actual digitisation and high quality thereof, it might be worth contacting him to see whether he is prepared to go to NAA in North Melbourne.

    I am only too well aware of the problem. I had some work done at the National Maritime Museum but the images sent to me didn’t have the required resolution for me to actually see the details clearly, so effectively I wasted my money".

    Noel advised if he hears of anyone else he will forward details.


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