The history of the Aradale Asylum is just a page away following a generous donation to the Ararat Genealogy Society.
The group recently secured a collection of records from asylum dating back to when the asylum opened in 1865.
The records were in the temporary care of the Public Record Office Victoria.
The 21 books that make up these records give an insight into what life at the asylum was like for both the staff and patients.
They include details such as different tradespeople who were hired to tend to the asylum over the years, the food and clothing orders that were made, and even some personal letters sent by staff.
Ararat Regional Library will serve as the new home to the records, which will now be accessible to the public.
A small gathering was held at the library on Tuesday, January 19, to celebrate the society's acquisition of the books.
Ararat Genealogy Society secretary and research lead Marion McAdie said she was delighted to have the records returned to Ararat.
"I'm just thrilled to have them back here in Ararat where they originated from," she said.
"I can see quite a bit of value in having them here.
"Even the descendants of some of the workers are still in Ararat today and I think they would be really chuffed to see their grandparents or their great-grandparents (in the records), their signatures, and what they handled."
At its peak, the asylum had about 900 patients and 600 staff.
Ms McAdie said the records gave a unique perspective into the conditions these individuals would have experienced.
"I think it will dispel a lot of the myths about it as well," she said.
"People have this idea that they lived on gruel.
"Just looking at the supplies, the rations, and things, they had as good a diet as anyone out in the community."
Ms McAdie also noted further work will also be undertaken to ensure the record's preservation.
"We are starting to digitise them fairly soon. We've got an excellent IT specialist who knows how to use the hovercam really well," she said.
Ararat Rural City Council mayor Jo Armstrong said the records provided invaluable information about the region's history.
"I think it's an amazing asset to return to Ararat," she said.
"It shows all the little cogs that work together that kept the machine at Aradale running for such a long time. It was almost a self-supporting community in its own right.
"Aradale was so integral to the town and its identity and economy."
Public Record Office Victoria assistant director access services David Taylor said he was delighted the records will now be readily available to the community.
"We're really, really thrilled to have them back here today," he said.
"The records are coming home, and those records tell amazing stories.
"They're used by local historians, they're used by researchers, they're used by novelists, to tell the story of the community."
Department of Health and Human Services senior digital archivist Michaela Hart said she was also pleased with the outcome.
"We're really thrilled on DHHS's behalf to have been able to help out and make this happen."
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