Welcome to the transcript of Manuscript 3251
What is Manuscript 3251?
The original documents of this manuscript [ms 3251] provided here as a transcript are held in the Manuscripts Library of the National Library of Australia (NLA) in Canberra, Australia.
Web link to item in NLA catalogue :
The manuscript consists of 9 volumes, bound c.1920s, purchased by Sir John Alexander Ferguson (1881-1969) in 1930 from Ridge’s Antiques, Launceston.
The volumes comprise Van Diemen’s Land official documents, predominately Depositions and Police Magistrate reports from 1820-1850s Launceston and surrounding Norfolk Plains district, Northern VDL (Tasmania).
Web link to a biography of Sir John Alexander Ferguson, the depositor of these volumes: http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Search/Home?lookfor=author:%22Ferguson,%20John%20Alexander,%201881-1969%22&iknowwhatimean=1
Sound interview with John Ferguson: http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/203089?lookfor=author:%22Ferguson,%20John%20Alexander,%201881-1969%22&offset=29&max=76
This manuscript was transcribed between 2007 and 2009 by two enthusiasts, Julie Gough and Rhonda Hamilton (who came to the rescue when 1.5 vols. were still to be transcribed and time in Canberra was running out!) and this transcript is provided here in its 362,919 word entirety. Additionally more than a dozen extremely cryptic pages of 1825 ‘shorthand’ mostly from ms 3251 1822-1825 box 2 vol 1 have been decoded and translated by Helen, the third project participant.
To access these decrypted texts click on the link on the top right link: AAA Manuscript 3251: ‘shorthand’ pages from 1825 translated [Flickr] by Helen.
The diverse array of texts in ms 3251 offer often harrowing encounters over a two-generation time span between men, women, children of the region. Aborigines, convicts, the landed, the servants, magistrates, constables, bushrangers, sealers/seamen, visitors – all are implicated in our entangled past.
The aim of this website is to share this window into frontier Van Diemen’s Land in an interactive way so that relevant associated information and web links will be added by you, the readers of these transcripts. Anything further you can provide about the events, the places and the people involved will enrich the understanding and accessibility of these accounts.
How to search in Manuscript 3251:
The two simplest ways to search within ms3251 are:
 Leave the ms3251 site and go to google and click on: “advanced search”. You then only need to fill in two ‘boxes’ on screen: one requiring the search term/s/name you are searching for, and the other, the bottom box: “search within a site or domain” where you need to add:manuscript3251.wordpress.com
Then click on ‘advanced search’ and a list of links and brief extracts including the search term will appear for which volumes in ms3251 these name/s appear.
After clicking on any of these links you will be in a relevant volume in which you can do a localised ‘option or command’ + ‘f’ key [find] search to locate the term inside the open volume, or otherwise scroll and read through the volume. [Thanks very much to Ross Smith, Launceston who showed me this search strategy.]
 Alternatively, you will need to look individually within each relevant [by date] volume of ms3251 while on the/this ms3251 site. The 9 volumes are provided as ‘posts’ mirroring their original state of: “box 1 holding 4 vols. and box 2 holding 5 vols.”. Click on the required volume name on the top right under the heading: “Recent Entries” to open that post-page transcript of that volume. Then, to search for people, places or dates, etc, do not use the ‘search box’ on right. Instead use the find command on your computer. (eg: ‘command’ + ‘f’ on a mac computer) – and then type the name etc you are seeking into that find box.
Please add any further useful information you can provide at the bottom of the transcript in the box: “Leave a comment”.
How to obtain photographs of the original Manuscript 3251 handwritten pages:
Due to the National Library of Australia (NLA) holding this manuscript images of the original handwritten manuscript pages must be requested and obtained directly from the NLA after completing necessary paperwork. You will need to provide details: page numbers/volume number/box number of ms3251 to order through the NLA “Copy Direct” service. For info see: https://www.nla.gov.au/copiesdirect/help/imagehelp.html#addinfomanuscript and order form: https://www.nla.gov.au/apps/copiesdirect?source=cat&sourcevalue=2744957
This transcription project is the result of the invaluable support of a Manning Clark House / Copyright Agency Limited Residential Fellowship undertaken in 2009: http://www.manningclark.org.au/
Please reference this site’s URL (https://manuscript3251.wordpress.com) if you utilise the information found within in published or presentation outcomes or on other websites.
Julie Gough – Tasmania
Postscript: Between 23 Oct 2009 (when this site was created) and 29 June 2011 there has been 14,035 site visits (not including my own) – which is a great outcome.
Postscript #2: Update 21 May 2012: Since inception (23/10/2009) there have been 22,112 visits to this ms3251 site.
Postscript #3: Update on 17 Sept. 2013 – 32,119 visits have been logged to this site since its inception almost 4 years ago.
Postscript #4: Update on 4 Feb. 2014 – 35,212 visits have been made to the ms3251 site.
Postscript #5: STATS update 21 December 2018. 57,130 views to date of MS3251.
Amazing work – congratulations. You have given us all a wonderful reference
Great stuff – thanks to all for the dedication. Good search facility, main page is informative & ability to access original pages invaluable.
Great resource – with it I have put details to a duel that I thought had been lost to researchers forever – well done
Congratulations from me too. Wonderful resource for us all. It will allow us to tease out the detail of characters and relationships. Thank you.
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What a wonderful piece of work! Thank you to Julie, and everyone else involved in this massive task, for a very welcome and valuable resource. Well done!
What a wonderful site!
What a great resource. Thanks for posting the URL to the TAS list otherwise I would not have known of this pages existence. My ancestor – John Hunt Butcher migrated to Tasmania & was a magistrate.