Asian Studies Program

Chinese Australia

Melbourne Chinatown Streets Database 1900-1920, 1930, 1940

Developed by Sophie Couchman

The Melbourne Chinatown Streets Database is based on information published in the streets section of the Melbourne Sands and McDougall Street Directories. It presently reproduces entries about occupants of Little Bourke Street (between Swanston and Spring Streets) and its lanes from 1900 to 1920 and also for 1930 and 1940. It provides the names of businesses (and in some cases individuals) resident in the area and information about the type of business run on the site.

This Database was created by Sophie Couchman for her thesis Tong Yun Gai (Street of the Chinese): Investigating patterns of work and social life in Melbourne's Chinatown 1900-1920 as part of a Master of Arts in Public History in the School of Historical Studies at Monash University in 1999. The thesis was completed in conjunction with the Museum of Chinese Australian History.

There are five source fields in the database: Street number, Street name, Individual/Business name, Economic Activity, Year. Information from these fields is copied directly from the Street Directories to keep the integrity of this data. Two 'master' fields were created so that inconsistencies and errors in the source information could be corrected. The 'master' field for street numbers means that multiple addresses, such as 108 to 110 Little Bourke Street, could be contracted to a single number, 108, for sorting purposes. The 'master' field for street name means that when street names changed a consistent name could be used.

The original database was created in Filemaker Pro 3 and is available at the Museum of Chinese Australian History.

A summarised form of the Database in pdf format has also been created. These tables compress like information about occupants of Little Bourke Street and its lanes between Swanston and Russell Streets. Information in most tables is ordered by street number and then by year. However for some of the lanes where there were very few, if any, street numbers, information has been ordered alphabetically by occupant surname. The spelling of street names corresponds to those used in the Directories at the time, the modern equivalent is noted in square brackets.

See the following article for a discussion of the broader uses of this database: Couchman, Sophie, 'Using database technology to research individuals with Chinese names: A case study of Little Bourke Street, Melbourne', Locality, Centre for Community History University of New South Wales, vol.11, no.2, 2000, pp.31-38.


Melbourne Chinatown Streets Database 1900-1920