In 1945 the National Library of Australia and Archive repositories in the United Kingdom and Ireland began a collaborative project to copy historical records relating to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. Microfilming commenced in 1948, continuing until the Project was completed in 1993. The date range of records now available through the Australian Joint Copying Project (AJCP) is 1560 to 1984. The collection contains 7.5 million records held on 10,419 reels of 35mm microfilm and is divided into two main sections: PRO (Public Records Office and M (Miscellaneous) Series. These records are now available online.
See the AJCP website for a comprehensive account of how to use and access its content.
The AJCP is relevant to the Tasmanian Supreme Court Legislation Archiving Project because it provides access to copies of the original manuscript Acts of the Legislative Council in Van Diemen’s Land from 1830 to 1851. These copies were sent to the Colonial Office by the Lieutenant Governors of the Colony to ensure the legislation of the Colony was not repugnant to the laws of England. There is no indication that the AJCP knew that the original manuscripts were part of the records of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, under the terms of the Acts Custody Act 1858 (Tas). The importance of the original copies of all Tasmanian legislation (both manuscript and printed), that have received Royal Assent by being signed by the Governor, replicates the procedures of the UK parliament whereby members could request to see the original Act to check the accuracy of the wording in a particular law.
There are seven collection files of VDL legislation: 1830-1834 1834-1837 1838-1839 1840-1841 1842-1845 1846-1848 1849-1851. You can use the Browse this Collection button to bring up thumbnails of single pages and use the Next and Previous links to move either forward or backward through each collection. The quality of images varies but selecting Full Screen mode or the Zoom button allows you to increase the size of each image.
Links are also available to manuscript copies of the early legislation of New South Wales and Western Australian on Acts, Ordinances and Proclamations from the Colonies. There is also a link on this page to a Register of Acts for Australian colonies, New Zealand, Auckland Islands, Fiji and British New Guinea (Papua) and the printed copies of the ten Acts of the Federal Council of Australasia.
While examining the original manuscripts of Acts from 1830-1851 twelve Acts were identified as being very difficult to read. As the collection has had minimal exposure to light, which can cause fading, it is thought that the problem may be poor quality ink, particularly as there are instances in the correspondence from the Colonial Office to the administration in Van Diemen’s Land where complaints are made about the readability of ink in official dispatches. A random check to compare the readability of some of the twelve problem Acts, held in Tasmania, with the same Acts in the AJCP Collection indicates their digital images can, at times, be easier to read than the original Acts. This could be useful if, in the future, it is decided to digitise the original manuscript copies of the Acts.