The Historical Business Listings dataset in Victoria Unearthed comes from the old Sands & McDougall directories - the 'phone books' of the 1800s and 1900s which contained contact information for both businesses and residences.

These directories are kept in hard copy at State Library Victoria and have been digitised and used for Victoria Unearthed. See the collection here.

Historical business information can help Victorians understand more about businesses that were located at a particular place, at a point in time.

Historic land use data can provide information to assist determining if a site may have been contaminated.  For most business types there is no increased risk of contamination from a past business activity.  However some business activities have a higher likelihood of causing contamination. That's why this information is included in Victoria Unearthed, appearing as purple dots on the map.

The information included in this first release of Victoria Unearthed is from the 1896, 1925 and 1974 directories, and involves only information listed in the trades and business directories – not the residential sections.

These directories have presented particular challenges regarding data accuracy as Victoria's street names and numbers may have changed drastically over the past century, and so has the way we record information.

The Historical Business Listings do not provide definitive information as to the actual activity that occurred on that site. For example, a manufacturing business listed at an address may not be the factory floor, but a head office for that business. A business name is not necessarily evidence that a particular activity occurred at that location.

As well as being included as data layers in Victoria Unearthed, the data files are available for download in multiple formats at data.vic or Spatial Datamart.

Go to the Historical Business Listings data dictionary

Go to the Historical Business Listings disclaimer

Find out more about what contamination is and isn't

Contact us

A business record is not necessarily evidence of business activity having historically occurred at that location. Historical business information in the directories can, for example, indicate the head office of a manufacturing business rather than the address of the factory floor.

The location of Historical Business Listings data points on the Victoria Unearthed map can differ in accuracy. In many regional and suburban areas, the business address listed in the Sands & McDougall directories only indicates a town or suburb, and does not include a street name or street number.

There may also be some errors in the data that occurred in the transfer from hardcopy to digital, and also in geocoding the data to display in the Victoria Unearthed map.

Over 150,000 historical business records have been geocoded by an automated process for this first release of Victoria Unearthed. Many of these records have been manually checked and verified, to ensure the correct location on the map. However, many still remain unverified and may be located incorrectly in Victoria Unearthed.

The original records are old and may themselves have been inaccurate, incomplete or both. For example, not all businesses would have had their information published in the Historical Business Listings (Sands & McDougall directories).

If you find a Historical Business Listing that you know is incorrect, you can contact us by clicking the feedback button in the top toolbar of the Victoria Unearthed map. We will endeavour to correct information that has been incorrectly transcribed from Sands and McDougall. However we cannot add additional historical business information at this time.

Click here to read the Historical Business Listings disclaimer.

Each business could be listed under multiple business types in the same directory. For example, Sands & McDougall listed themselves 16 times in the 1925 directory under different business types, including ‘Account Book Manufacturers’, ‘Bookbinders, Paper rulers’ and more. All of these business types were linked to the Sands & McDougall head office on Collins Street, Melbourne. This does not mean that 16 different businesses operated out of the one site, but that this same single business created multiple products. To ensure that customers were able to find them, they listed themselves under every possible product category.

Multilevel buildings in Melbourne, will often include multiple listings to account for multiple businesses located on different floors.

There won't be Historical Business Listings information for every current address in Victoria. Not all businesses were included in the directories, and a developed area today may not have been developed 100 years ago.

In Victoria Unearthed, there is more information available for central Melbourne - as it was already well populated in the late 1800s. In this first release of Victoria Unearthed, only the 1925 directory includes extensive information about regional areas. Future Victoria Unearthed updates may include more Historical Business Listings from across Victoria.

In many regional and suburban areas, the business address from the Sands & McDougall directories is only listed as a town or suburb, with no street name or street number included. For some business listings only the street name is included with no street number given. Therefore, the ability to display this data with specificity in Victoria Unearthed is problematic.

To help address this, the Historical Business Listings information in Victoria Unearthed appear as purple dots with three different sizes. The different sizes represent whether the business listing is for a specific property address, a street section, or for a more general area such as a suburb or town.

  • Small dot = Property address known
  • Medium dot = Street only known
  • Large dot = Suburb/town only known.

Victoria Unearthed only includes information from the 'professional and trades' sections of the directories. If your address is the site of an old family home, that information will not be displayed in Victoria Unearthed.

There are a range of ways you can find out more about potential legacy land and groundwater contamination, including from historical aerial photos, local historical societies, historical land titles, council rates records, Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works plans and the Victorian Heritage Database.

Inexpensive soil sample tests like VegeSafe are also a practical way for people to test for metals and understand more about their soil.

Alternatively, you may wish to contact a qualified and experienced environmental consultant if you require a more comprehensive land and/or groundwater assessment.

The Historical Business Listings in Victoria Unearthed are from the Sands & McDougall directories that existed from 1860 to 1974. We’ve chosen a snapshot from across the available years from 1896 to 1974, with 1925 selected to provide information about a time in between. More directories will be added in future.

More Historical Business Listings will be added to Victoria Unearthed over time. If you find an Historical Business Listing that you know is incorrect, you can contact us by clicking the feedback button in the top toolbar of the Victoria Unearthed map. We will endeavour to correct information that has been incorrectly transcribed from Sands and McDougall.

More Historical Business Listings will be added to Victoria Unearthed over time. If you find an Historical Business Listing that you know is incorrect, you can contact us by clicking the feedback button in the top toolbar of the Victoria Unearthed map. We will endeavour to correct information that has been incorrectly transcribed from Sands and McDougall.

Historical Business Listings data dictionary

The following information appears in the Victoria Unearthed left sidebar when you expand a search result or use the “Identify” tool and click on a purple dot at a location.

S&McD Year: The year of Sands & McDougall directory publication.

Business Type: The business type as listed in the Sands & McDougall directory.

Business Name: Name of the business and/or owner as listed in the Sands & McDougall directory.

Historical Address: The business address as listed in the Sands & McDougall directory.

S&McD Page Number: The page number of the listing in the Sands & McDougall directory.

Link to State Library Victoria: Link to the relevant Sands & McDougall directory at State Library Victoria.

Geocode ID: Unique Identifier for each Sands & McDougall record.

Adopted Street No: Street number entered for geocoding process.

Adopted Street Name: Street name entered for geocoding process.

Adopted Street Type:  Street type entered for geocoding process.

Adopted corner: Additional street name(s) indicating an intersection for geocoding process.

Adopted Locality: Suburb or locality entered for geocoding process.

Pregeocode status: Lists anyIssues if the address record for geocoding process is incomplete (e.g. "No Street Number").

Returned street no: Geocoding result for street number.

Returned street name: Geocoding result for street name.

Returned street type:  Geocoding result for the street type.

Returned locality: Geocoding result for suburb, town or locality.

Geocode partial match: Geocoding result.  Indicates if the address was matched on part of the information provided.

Geocode result type: Geocoding result.  Indicates the type of location returned by the geocoder.

Geocode precision: Geocoding result.  Indicates the location precision as reported by the geocoding process. "ROOFTOP" is a precise location; other values are approximations at street or suburb/town level precision.

Geocode status: Geocoding result.  Lists any errors or mismatches found during the geocoding process.

Post Geocode Location quality: Level of confidence in the accuracy of the geocoding result (e.g.  “Very Low”, “Moderate”, “Very High”).

Secondary Source: Source of information used to verify/correct the geocoding result.

Secondary Source Comment: Describes the verification/review process for the record. Explains what corrections were made, if any, to the locations of the records.

Geocoding Issue: Issues encountered during the geocoding process. Mostly blanks or nulls.  

Location precision: Describes the location precision of map point, including any corrections from verification/review (E.g. "street address match", "street level", "locality level").

Vicmap address / location: Location address (as at June 2018) obtained from the VicMap suite of products.

Vicmap product: VicMap product.

Vicmap PFI: Unique Identifier (PFI) for each VicMap record.

Directory time stamp: The year of Sands & McDougall directory publication held in a time stamp format.

This provides more detail on each business listing, including the original source of information, the ‘geocoding’ process that mapped the business location onto the Victoria Unearthed map, and any verification and corrections applied during the data review process.

For more detail, a comprehensive data dictionary has been created to assist users to understand the technical details behind the creation of this dataset. 

Data dictionary for Historical Business Listings (PDF, 170.4 KB)

Data dictionary for Historical Business Listings (DOCX, 109.5 KB)

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Page last updated: 09/07/19