FAQ - Inquests and Body Cards

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How do I access an inquest from 1840 - 1985?

You will need to consult the database Inquest Index, Victoria 1840-1985. This database can be found on computers in PROV's reading rooms, the State Library of Victoria, and some genealogical centres and public libraries around Australia.  For more information, have a look at the Ordering Inquest Records page.

How do I access an inquest from 1986 onwards?

For further information regarding access to documents, please contact the Coroner's Court of Victoria Information and Records Manager on 1300 309 519 or alternatively you can access the Court's website at www.coronerscourt.vic.gov.au. Information regarding access to documents can be found under "Court Processes- Access to Documents.|"

For your request to be considered, you must complete an application form, Form 45-Application for Access to Coronial Documents. This form can be found on the Court's website. The completed form can either be posted to the Court or emailed to coronerscourt.records@coronerscourt.vic.gov.au

What if I can’t find an inquest?

Some inquests are not held in VPRS 24, for example: 

1) Inquests resulting in criminal charges 1840 - 1950 are found only in VPRS 30 Criminal Trial Briefs (the name of the accused is needed to access these records).
2) For inquests resulting in criminal charges 1951 - 1963, some duplicate copies can be found in units VPRS 24 / P0, units 2046 - 2054 (arrangement is alphabetical by deceased surname). The original files are in VPRS 30 Criminal Trial Briefs.
3) From 1964 onwards, inquests may be found in both VPRS 30 and VPRS 24.

4) You may also wish to search the Body Card records to establish if an autopsy report has been filed.

Another series which may be of use is VPRS 7662 Melbourne Admittance Books 1931-1959 which records details regarding the arrival and disposal of bodies at the City Mortuary/Coroner. Information entered on the receipt of the body includes the name of the deceased and undertaker bringing body, date and time of arrival and the name, station, number and report of the police officer who accompanied the body. The detail found in this report varies. Sometimes the report simply states that the officer concerned accompanied the body from the place of death. In other instances the report may also contain the circumstances of death, the address of the deceased, the name of the doctor who pronounced life extinct, the place of examination and other information deemed relevant. Annotations made beneath this report detailed what occurred after receipt. This includes whether a Post Mortem (P.M.) was conducted, by whom and the date, whether an inquest was held or a decision of death by natural causes entered. Occasionally entries may also record the person identifying the body, the deceased's regular doctor, the age and marital status of the deceased and a brief summary of the Port Mortem result.
Points to note:- This series is for the Melbourne Metropolitan area only for the years 1931- September 1959 and ended with the introduction of VPRS 10010 Body Cards.

What is a body card?

The term "body card" refers to the cardboard file containing all of the supporting documentation used by a coroner when investigating reported deaths.  The name and address of the deceased as well as the body card number were recorded on the cover of the file. 

How do I access the body cards?

You will need to consult the indexes to body cards, arranged alphabetically by the surname of the deceased. These are available in hard copy at the collection desk in the Victorian Archives Centre reading room or the Ballarat Archives Centre reading room.

What is the date range for body cards?

You can access body card records from September 1959 to 1985.

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