I am researching the life of E H Henderson who was Chief Architect of the Commonwealth from 1929 to 1939, succeeding John Smith Murdoch.

He worked for the Department of Works (CA14)  (which become the Department of Interior, CA27) in Canberra.

I am trying to understand his role in the department and his dealings with Ministers and other officers.

Is there any way to browse what kinds of files are held in relation to a Cth department in the 1930s.  For example, do they have general correspondence files?  Meeting papers?  Henderson's name may not appear through a search, but he may be mentioned in these documents, so I can't simply type his name in.

I have looked at advance search, but can't figure out how to browse.

Any advice would be much appreciated


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Hi Paul,

Under the CRS system, our records are organised in a hierarchical structure.

First, we have the agencies that create records. Each agencies creates 'series' of records, which are collections of records that are in a common format, deal with a common issue, or were part of the same recordkeeping system. For instance, we may have a series of correspondence files, or a series of meeting minutes. In turn, each series is made up of one or more 'items', which are the individual files, volumes, photographs etc.

You cannot browse the items recorded by an agency in one step. You would firstly need to identify which relevant series are created by the agencies concerned. Once you have identified the relevant series, you can browse the items within those series.

To do this, Use the Advanced Search - Series search screen. One of the fields you can search on is 'Agency/person recording'. If you put 'CA 14' into this field and click search you will be able to browse a list of all series created by that agency. Each series in this list will have a number of 'items listed'. You can click on the link for any series to browse the individual items within that series.

Please note, however, that while all agencies and series are registered, all items are not. We hold many series where only a small portion of the individual items listed are on RecordSearch. If require assistance in identifying those items not listed on RecordSearch, or you need some more detailed guidance, please submit a general inquiry.


Andrew Cairns


thanks so much for your reply.

I have gone to the series page, put in CA14 on agency/person reporting and pressed search - no records have come up.  I tried typing in the example the form uses (CA1382) and that doesn’t bring up anything.  Do I need to add extra search terms for example in keywords in order to get a result.  I may have missed something here.

sorry to trouble you,



Hi Paul,

No problem.

I think the issue is that there has to be a space between 'CA' and the number. So it's 'CA 14', not 'CA14'.

Hope that helps,



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