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  • Find out how you can get organised and save time and money when researching your family history with our National Family History Month Family History Lesson.

    Wendy and Jill will also walk you through various websites including Ancestry, the State Archives and Trove and give you tips on how to make good use of the Victorian History Library and search the catalogue.

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  • Alison Boundy is a retired teacher-librarian who has been researching her family history since 1995.  Using the research of her Mother’s family as an example, Alison will discuss how beginner family historians can explore their family history.

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  • Our oral history collection is small, but deep. It ranges through everything from blacksmithing in Prahran, to the history of 19th century buildings in Melbourne, to personal stories from around Melbourne and Victoria.

    These resources can give an intimate level of knowledge to your research project that would be impossible to find elsewhere. The oral history resources can be found on the library computers under audio recordings

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  • The PMI is an essential hub for family history research. As well as more general resources, such as the library subscription to Ancestry.com, we hold much more specific and unique resources that are vital to family history research.

    Resources such as: town history, historical society periodicals, family histories, how to genealogy books, databases, indexes, gazettes and directories. These sorts of resources are invaluable for both the macro and the micro view of family history.

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  • The PMI Library has more than 30,000 books for loan and a professional information service for our members, we provide a central resource for research into the history of Victoria.  We hold many titles that are unavailable elsewhere.  It is the only lending collection of its kind in Australia that is available for loan to the general public.

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Latest News


2017 PMI Press Publication Where Did All the Blacksmiths Go? by Shirley Xanthos

The PMI Press is excited to announce its latest publication, Where Did All the Blacksmiths Go? written by Shirley Xanthos.

Thousands of years ago man made fire, man heated rock, man discovered by heating rock he could improve his weapons for hunting for food. This same man became intelligent enough to improve on these procedures and began making more sophisticated implements and weapons. This man became known as a blacksmith. With these skilful men communities grew, villages became towns, towns became cities and with growth came hunger and criminals. Britain sent its undesirables to the new colonies. Australia benefited from the abilities of these men but industrialisation raised factories and with them the loss of thousands of skilled tradesmen. So where did all the blacksmiths go?

The book will be launched at the PMI Victorian History Library on Saturday 12 August 2017.  For more details about the launch, and to book your place please visit our events page.


Notice of 2017 Annual General Meeting

Tuesday. 02/05/2017

In accordance with Section 5 of the Rules of the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute and Circulation Library 2007 (constituted under the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Act No. 1617, 27 October 1899) I hereby announce the notice of our forthcoming Annual General Meeting to be held on Thursday 25 May 2017 commencing at 6.00pm at 39 St Edmonds Road, Prahran.

The meeting will include the appointment of one member to the PMI Committee. Please contact Steven Haby, Secretary Librarian by phone (03 9510 3393) or email if you would like to receive a nomination form.

The meeting will be followed by a presentation by noted Melbourne historian, journalist, film maker and raconteur Lesley Sharon Rosenthal who will talk about filmmaking and its role in documenting history.  This will include a short film presentation.

You can download a PDF version of the AGM Agenda here.


W.H. Blakeley Book Launch

Monday, 20/02/2017

The PMI Library staff attended the book launch of W.H. Blakeley: pioneer saw maker, farmer &​ trade unionist written by PMI Library Member Helen Blakey about her Grandfather, William Henry Blakeley on 8 March 2017. The launch was held at Main Ridge Bowls Club and hosted by the Dromana & District Historical Society, in conjunction with the Red Hill District Lions Club. It was a lovely evening with lots of support shown for Helen’s book. Secretary Librarian, Steven Haby also managed to win one of the raffles on the night. We would like to extend our best wishes to Helen and her new book. About the Book William Henry Blakeley, the unsung, red-headed, trail-blazing hero of the book, embraces the Colony, uses his industrial skills to build a business concurrently with that of a Trade Society, and farms at Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula. As the first saw manufacturer in Australia, he expands his firm and his reputation, prospects and invests in gold, supports inventions, and embraces the Great Exhibitions of the 1880s. He survives the 1890s Depression, recovers from a financial catastrophe that would have overwhelmed a lesser person, and secures W.H Blakeley’s enterprising contribution to the economic advancement of a new nation. W.H. Blakeley: Pioneer saw maker, farmer &​ trade unionist is available for loan from the PMI Library.

Book Cover Helen Blakeley signing book


Volunteer News

Friday, 17/02/2017

One of our dedicated volunteers, John, turned 80 a couple of weeks ago and still came in on his birthday to volunteer. We thought that was worth a cake! John has been a volunteer at the PMI since 2013 helping to cover our books. Thanks for your help John, we hope you had a great birthday.

Image of John with Birthday Cake Image of John's Cake


Friends of the PMI Library Second-Hand Book Sale

Monday, 13/02/2017 The Friends of the PMI Library will be holding their first book sale for this year on Sunday 26 March 2017 from 10:30am-3:00pm. Categories include History, Military, Australiana, Literature, Nature, Biographies, Cinema and more. The PMI Library will also be open during this time for those who wish to utilise the library facilities.


PMI Library Staff Updates

Tuesday, 13/12/2016 We are both happy and sad to announce that after 16 years at the PMI, Tim McKenna (Secretary Librarian) is officially retiring from his position at the end of this year. Read more…


2016 Victorian Community History Awards

Thursday, 20/10/2016 PMI would like to congratulate the winners of the 2016 Victorian Community History Awards. In particular, we would like to congratulate members Pam Baragwanath and Ken James who were the overall prize winners for ‘These Walls Speak Volumes’ and our Vice President, Judith Buckrich who was the recipient of the Local History – Small Publication Award for ‘The Village of Ripponlea’.  Read more…


Announcement: 2016 Short History Prize Winner 

Tuesday, 18/10/2016 The Prahran Mechanics’ Institute would like to congratulate Neville Lee from the Camberwell Historical Society for his entry The Story of Ashburton Through the Ages. This year’s winner is a well-researched and detailed description of the development of this little known area of greater Melbourne. Interestingly told with detail of the wider history as well as what happened locally, it is also well illustrated with maps and photographs. The author receives $500, a certificate and a PMI voucher and the nominated historical society also receives $500. Read more…



Welcome!

The PMI Library is a community owned and run library specialising in the history of Victoria, Australia.

We have over 30,000 books for loan and a professional information service for our members. We provide a central resource for research into the history of Victoria.

Joining is easy, affordable and open to all.

The PMI is also the home of special collections of the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria, the Cinema & Theatre Historical Society and the Australian Railway Historical Society (Vic.).

Opening Hours

Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri: 9.30am-4.30pm
Thu: 9.30am-7.00pm

Except for Victorian public holidays and the Christmas-New Year period.