Launched! Victorian CEDT Index

I’m very excited to announce that tonight the Chinese Family Historians of Victoria (CAFHOV) launched the Victorian CEDT Index. I’ve worked on several aspects of this project in a volunteer capacity – from transcription to testing of the database, and marketing and promotion.

The Index is a boon for anyone researching people who travelled overseas via Victoria on a Certificate Exempting from Dictation Test (CEDT) during 1904-1959. It captures around 13,000 journeys made during this period. 

The notorious Dictation Test was the prime instrument of the Immigration Restriction Act, 1901 (commonly known as the ‘White Australia Policy’). The Test was engineered to restrict entry to Australia for people of colour who were not born in Australia.

In limited circumstances, the Australian Federal Government granted exemptions to the Dictation Test for people of colour. Exemptions were given to people who had lived in Australian for five or more years, were considered to be of good character, and who wished to travel overseas for a period of no more than three years. A CEDT then functioned as a de facto passport for people of colour, allowing them to travel and then return to their lives in Australia.

While the White Australia Policy primarily affected people of Chinese ancestry, the Victorian CEDT Index also includes entries for people described by Government officials as having Armenian, C/Singalese, European, Indian, Japanese, and Syrian (Lebanese) ancestry.

In addition to a searchable database, the Victorian CEDT Index offers data visualisations which allow a deep dive into information provided in the CEDTs. The visualisations, for example, show in an instant that it was the working class Chinese market gardeners who made the majority of overseas journeys on CEDTs.

The site also offers a repository of stories from people who have found their ancestors in the Index. Anna Wolf’s story ‘Found: Louey Leong Hock‘ is a particular favourite of mine. In this post, Anna talks about the excitement of finding her great grandfather in the index.

To learn more about the project, the launch video is a great primer as is the project’s ‘About’ page.

The Victorian CEDT Index is a great example of what can be achieved by a group of passionate volunteer family historians. I’m incredibly proud to be part of the project team!

If you need assistance with finding out about your ancestor’s journeys, please get in touch.

Published by Dr Kristy Love

Genealogist at Family History Agency

2 thoughts on “Launched! Victorian CEDT Index

    1. Thanks, Patricia! The project also helps to showcase the importance of properly funding Australian archives. I can only imagine what could be done if a greater number of digitisation projects were funded.

      Liked by 1 person

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