Family records and public archives

The image above shows Giovanni Santin’s Canadian entry document issued in 1910.

When you look at old family photos or documents that belonged to your parents or grandparents, they tell a story about their history and experiences. Old photos take us to different times and prompt questions about when they were taken, who are the people and where are they – and even who took the images. Migration can make those photos and documents even more important because they reflect the two worlds – the country of birth and the new nation and life. Photos of relatives in Italy become a way to keep precious memories of family members who are separated by distance. Migrants often sent back photos to their families to show details of their life in Australia and significant events – birth of children, first holy communions or weddings. As the generations age, and with separation from family in

Vittorio Marchioro, soldier in the Royal Italian Army for National Serivce, Vicenza, 1926.

Italy, people may not know the relatives in old photos taken in Italy unless they have been identified with names on the back or written into photograph albums.

If family members brought documents to Australia, it is more straightforward to understand their context because they will include details such as names and dates and you understand the purpose of them. Not all people keep old papers and official records but there is one Veneto family that had a treasure trove of documents – and photos – that date back to the first decade of the 20th century.


Santin family records
In the Santin family, stories are contained in photos taken both before Giovanni Santin departed Caselle di Altivole in the Veneto region and  after his arrival in Adelaide in 1927. Giovanni had married Maria Tessari in 1907 and their daughter, Angelina, was born in 1908. In 1910, Giovanni went to work as a miner in Canada and he returned to Caselle di Altivole in 1917. His wife Maria died in 2018 and in 1919, Giovanni married Costantina Visentin. Eight years after Giovanni arrived in Adelaide, Costantina and their four children joined him in 1935. The children were: Lui, 14 years, Vito, 12 years, Romildo, 11 years and Virginia, 8 years.

Costantina Santin nee Visentin with Luigi, Virginia, Romildo, Vito, Angelina, Caselle di Altivole, c 1929.
Santin siblings celebrate 50 years in Australia – Luigi, Romildo, Virginia, Vito – Adelaide, 1985. Photo courtesy of Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo.








In 1985, the four Santin siblings celebrated the anniversary of their arrival in Adelaide and the photo is a record of the event, reflecting the significance of a new life that unfolded eventually on Frogmore Road where the family bought a market garden. Giovanni’s first daughter, Angelina, had married Pietro Compostella who migrated in 1938 and Angelina and with their three children in 1947 in Adelaide.

Certificate of Good Conduct for Giovanni Santin, signed by the representative of the local municipality, 1 July 1927. Certificate provided by Diana Panazzolo nee Santin.

The value of family records
Diana Panazzolo nee Santin has held a large collection of family documents since her parents died. The documents provide an insight into the history of the family and include Royal Italian Army documents that give Giovanni’s date of enlistment in 1908 and his discharge certificate, 1909. Giovanni’s entry document for Canada shows that he arrived in 1909 and departed in 1917. During that time, he worked as a miner. Giovanni also kept his record of ‘Good Conduct’ which was issue by the local municipality at Altivole before he emigrated in 1927.


Other documents tell a story about Costantina and the four children in 1935 – through a number of legal documents that were required for emigration. These included: an official document that approved the emigration, medical certificates and vaccination records and an identity card for Costantina.

Ticket of embarkation on the Remo for Costantina Visentin in Santin and her four children, dated 29October 1935. Provided by Diana Panazzolo nee Santin.

One of the most interesting papers in the collection of family documents is the embarkation ticket for Costantina and children, Lui, Vito, Romildo and Virginia on the ship, Remo, that left Genova 8th November 1935. The ticket was purchased on 29 October 193, just ten days before the ship left the port. They travelled in 3rd class in Cabin 219 and the ticket included “rations.” The journey took 36 days. The family group arrived at Port Adelaide on 31 December 1935. It is interesting to consider the various steps that the family had to take in their local council area in to fulfil requirements and it is rare to have so many records that tell the story of the emigration of a family from Italy to Australia during the years between the wars.

Other documents include Santin family papers such as an Australian identity certificate for Giovanni Santin required during the Second World War, naturalisation certificate, licence to purchase fuel in partnership with Alberto Berno as primary producers in 1946 and receipt of the purchase of a GMH vehicle in 1949.

Meeting about Santin family records – L-r: Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo, Aaron Santin, Sue Ward, Mary Ryan, Diaa Panazzolo ne Santin, Sadra Conci ne Santin. Flinders Park, 219. Photo by Alex Bennett.

When Diana was interviewed for the Veneto market gardeners’ oral history project in 2013, she realised the value of the family papers and considered that it could be worthwhile donating them to the State Library of South Australia. After consulting with her siblings and cousins, a meeting was arranged with two archivists from the State Library where representatives of the four Santin families were present and the papers were handed over as donations. Sue Ward, Coordinator of the Archival Collection Development, wrote a letter and confirmed “The Santin family records will provide valuable information to future researchers on the subjects of migration and the contributions that migrants families made to the South Australian community.”

Mary Ryan, Sue Ward, Diana Panazzolo nee Santin, Flinders Park, 2019. Photo by Alex Bennett.

Interviews in the State Library related to the Santin family:

  • OH 872/24 – Anna Santin nee Mattiazzo: (2013)
  • OH 872/27 – Diana Panazzolo nee Santin: (2013)
  • OH 872/47 – Sandra Conci nee Santin: (2018)
  • OH 872/62 – Denise Doyban nee Santin (2021)
  • OH 872/13 – Oscar Mattiazzo (married to Virginia Santin) – 11 interviews recorded 2011 and 2012.

A market gardener donates records books
Earlier this year, Johnny Marchioro  donated three books of records of the operation of Marchioro family market garden that he had kept since the late 1950s. When he left school Johnny worked with his parents who had 21 glasshouses at Lockleys and grew tomatoes, beans and other vegetables. In 1958 at aged 18 years, Johnny began keeping detailed records of what his family sold every time they went to market. The records document the operations of a small migrant family business that grew tomatoes and beans in twenty-one glasshouses and other vegetables at Lockleys.

Eleonora and Johnny Marchioro, Madeleine Regan. Johnny is signing the Deed of Gift to donate his three records books to the State Library, Adelaide, March 2023. Photo by Alex Bennett.

These historical documents reflect the scale of changes in growing vegetables, market prices, operational costs and earnings involved in small intensive family market gardens that do not exist today. Johnny maintained records after he married Eleonora Ottanelli in 1965 and they established their market garden at Bolivar. There, they worked in partnership for more than 40 years. The records books are unique because of the amount of information that Johnny provides: seasonal planting, range of crops, and variation in market prices. Also included are details about Johnny and Eleonora’s costs for establishing the market garden at Bolivar and also their expenses for building their home.

Page from first record book donated by Johnny Marchioro to the State Library of SA. Note the items are pre-decimal currency. Photo by Madeleine Regan.


A family collection of oral histories and artefacts in the State Library
The State Library now holds a comprehensive collection of oral history interviews and other artefacts that provide detailed information about two generations of the Marchioro family and their experience of market gardening in Adelaide. Johnny’s parents, Vittorio and Angelina, were interviewed in 1984 for a project about migrants who arrived between the wars. In his interview, Johnny speaks about his long career of working market gardens and the Veneto community. His brother, Romano, reflects on his childhood, the market garden and links to other Veneto families. Eleonora describes her experience of becoming a market gardener in partnership with Johnny. The following interviews are in the State Library:

  • Vittorio and Angelina Marchioro OH 12 (1984)
  • Johnny Marchioro OH 872/1 (2008)
  • Romano Marchioro OH 872/20 (2012)
  • Eleonora Marchioro OH 896/7 (2008).
Johnny and Romano Marchioro, Frogmore Road, c 1945. Photo, courtesy Johnny Marchioro.


Johnny also donated 18 photos which reflect his family’s life and the community on the market gardens from the 1940s to the 1990s to the State Library to accompany his interview which was the first one I recorded for the Veneto market gardener’s oral history project in 2008.



Preserving family records for the future
Photos and documents can help us to understand the history of a family and the times in which it lived. The State Library accepts donations of materials with historical significance. Records donated by migrants are of particular interest because they offer information that may not be included in written accounts of South Australian history.

The documents and photos that the Santin family and Johnny Marchioro are preserved for the future in the State Library. They will expand understanding of the experience of the Veneto market gardener community. These resources can live with one descendant or they can be donated to the Library and become important records for future research about the social, cultural and economic history of South Australia.

Madeleine Regan
30 July 2023

Parties in the Veneto community of Lockleys

Guest blogger, Remo Berno, who lives in Riese Pio X, recalls the social events he and his family enjoyed in the 1950s and 1960s.
The feature photo shows a party celebrating the confirmation of Robert Berno and John Torresan held in the Berno packing shed, Valetta Road, Kidman Park, 1959.

In my youth in Adelaide, I can recall a routine way of life, a good life with all commodities, all that a young person would want. Nevertheless, days followed one another in much the same way. Obviously, a main part of my life, from 5 to 18 years of age, was spent at school or in activities related to school. First, at Saint Joseph’s Primary School in Flinders Park and after that at Saint Michael’s College Beverly and Henley Beach – lessons, recreation, friends, sport, homework, exams. On weekends and during holiday periods, friends came to our house on Valetta Road as we had plenty of space for our outdoor games.

Berno property, Valetta Road, house and shed in the distance, 1950s.

On our market garden on Valetta Road, there were many places that were great as playgrounds. We had a big open gravel yard in front of the packing shed, where we would play footy or cricket with the boys. The empty half cases were excellent for building fortresses for cowboy or war games. The shed and all the adjacent storage rooms or garages were fantastic for hide and seek games. At that time, I rarely recollect being bored even though with hindsight, it was a very normal routine way of life. School mates became friends of play. Nothing seemed to upset that comfortable way of growing up.

Berno packing shed, with mechanic, Valetta Road, Kidman Park , 1960s.

Towards the end of my teens, I was more frequently asked by Dad to help him in the market garden. He was getting on in his years and I was young and healthy. I suppose it was expected by my parents that I should take a more active role in supporting their work. In Italy, in their hometown, Riese Pio X, in the first part of the last century, boys and girls at a very early age were an active part of the family household and farming. I never relished my chores as a youngster but as I grew up, I appreciated how hard Dad and Mum had worked to give us, their children, a good life, so helping became more spontaneous.

Location of Riese Pio X.

Sunday was the family day. It was Mass in the morning and in the afternoon, trips to park lands or visits to relatives and friends. Looking back, it was the only time during the week that I spent with all members of my family.

However, there were events that broke the routine – events that I recall with great pleasure. Important non-routine events were the parties. As far back as I remember, parties always meant having fun in a different way. At an early age my first memories were birthday parties at home. Friends met at the home of the celebrated boy or girl with sweets, cakes, soft drinks, and of course, birthday presents. These parties were usually quite small and normally took place in the kitchens of the different homes and in the backyards in fine weather.

Cousins- Robert, Johnny, Remo, Marisa and Diana Berno with friends at a birthday party at the Berno home, c 1961.

As parties grew bigger, the packing sheds of the Veneti market gardeners were the preferred venues. At that time, the parties were connected to special events such as baptisms, confirmations, and weddings. I clearly remember my sister’s confirmation party that was held in our shed. Because there were five children who were confirmed, a larger venue was required for the party.

The photo below was taken outside the Flinders Park Church with Archbishop Gleeson, who celebrated the holy sacrament.  From left to right you see, my father Pietro, his godson and nephew, Angelo Pastro , Diana Maschio (whose grandparents and father migrated from Riese Pio X in Veneto), my mother Antonietta – godmother to both Diana Maschio and Elisa Pastro (her niece), Diana Berno, Archbishop Gleeson, Marisa Berno, Antonietta Baldan, who also migrated from Riese Pio X – godmother to Diana Berno. There is also Clara Santin from  Caselle di Altivole, 5 km from Riese Pio X – godmother to Marisa and on the far right, Maria Maschio, Diana Maschio’s grandmother, also from Riese Pio X.

Confirmees with their sponsors and Archbishop Gleeson, Flinders Park, 1968.

The boys and girls who were confirmed that day – and their godparents  – were all related in some way to each other.

A view of the party for the children who were confirmed with priest, Father Reid. Berno packing shed, 1968.

I can now appreciate how important these occasions were for the Veneto people and especially to the pioneer Veneto market gardeners’ families. In that photo we see my parents Antonietta and Pietro Berno, and also Clara, Romildo Santin’s wife. The market gardeners of these two families migrated to Adelaide in 1920s. The following families: Pastro, Maschio and Baldan had migrated to Adelaide, or better, to Lockleys, in the path paved by the pioneers. In fact, all these families settled in the vicinity of Valetta Road, Frogmore Road and Findon Road.

Socialising meant stronger relationships between the Veneti who had migrated after World War II and the pioneer Veneti. Families like my father’s and those of the Tonellato brothers and sisters or those of the Santin brothers and sisters had been settled in Lockleys for quite some time. Their market gardens were already established activities. They all had an important workplace, the sheds. I imagine that it was quite straightforward for the pioneers to organise these “in house” parties. Each of the pioneer families had its own market garden shed that offered a great location for get-togethers. Food and drinks were not a problem as the produce from their farms was abundant. The new Veneto migrants that arrived after the war had ties to their relations who had already settled in Australia. My father and uncle offered their shed for the newcomers’ events such as weddings or baptisms.

Engagement party of Remo’s cousin, Mary Pastro, Garage of Bruno and Maria Pastro, c 1968.

It was common for my family to attend such parties in our shed but also in those of the Santins, the Tonellatos, and of other Veneti market gardeners’ sheds. At the parties there were children of all ages, so it was never a problem to meet old friends and make new ones, and spend time playing games.

The families of friends and relatives got together away from work and housekeeping, and they spent pleasant hours, probably recalling the sagre paesane (village festivals) that took place in their hometown in Veneto. These sagre paesane in Italy were special occasions where the whole community would come together to celebrate the patron saint of the village. In a similar manner, the families of the Veneto market gardeners came together as a community in Lockleys.

The children would soon play in and around the party location. The women would get together to exchange views on whatever interested them. The men would gather, especially if the party had a bar. Beer would flow and was counted by the kegs. Chatting got louder and louder, and that’s usually when the singing of old Italian songs would break out. The young adults would meet and dance to the music played by the band, a small group of two or three with an accordion, a set of drums and a vocalist. Usually, the band members sang and played Italian favourites that pleased all the participants. On these occasions, it was not unusual for young Italian men who had recently arrived in Adelaide, to show special attention towards young second-generation women in the attempt to find their new partners in life.

View of a typical wedding reception of a couple from the Veneto region, c 1957. Note: Robert Berno, in white shoes, looking towards the camera on the right in front of the bridal table.

I remember one epic wedding party that took place at Centennial Hall in Wayville with over a thousand guests with a many storeyed wedding cake. We the youngsters, were everywhere, playing and having fun. There was so much to do, and our parents were too busy partying, so we had fewer restrictions than usual. In these very big parties, I would make meet other boys my age who were new to me. Some new acquaintances became my friends. At a latter age the parties became occasions to meet young girls with a different attitude to friendship. Everything connected to the parties was so exciting, and a break in my routine.

I still fondly remember these events of more than 50 years ago and they remain one of the many pleasant aspects of my youth in Adelaide. I was young and took them for granted as a normal way of socialising with the other Veneti. I probably never even thought about the fact that most people at these parties were somehow related and had in common, their origins. I was born in a big capital city with an extended territory and an important population. Looking back, I see how many parties that were held in the sheds belonging to the Veneto market gardeners. It was a time where these families that had migrated from small rural villages in Veneto would come together. The population of these small Italian towns in the early 20th century was only a few thousand people and their lives were celebrated in a small area around their homes.

The ‘new Australians’ had migrated to a major city, Adelaide, in a new and young nation, Australia, and had to integrate into the new world, hardly speaking English, if none at all. It certainly was an important step up in life for them.

Group of young Veneto men who arrived after WW2 with young Robert Berno, outside the Berno house, Valetta Road, c 1952. Photo, courtesy, Maria Mazzarolo nee Compostella.

These parties were binding events for the migrants, exchanging friendship and guidance, that helped them face the challenges of settling down in the new nation. Parties were important occasions to meet other similar Veneti and feel the comfort of being part of a community where fellow migrants, that had already settled and had reached a comfortable economic status, could give them the attention needed.

Remo Berno
16 July 2023

All photos, except the last one, provided by the Berno family.

You can listen to Remo’s interview and read the transcript on the website. Go to the Berno page and find the ‘Interview’ and ‘Transcript’ buttons:



My Italian-Australian Experience

Guest blogger, Vivian Miotto writes about her life as a woman who was born in Adelaide and has lived in Italy since 1969. She reflects on the question of identity.

My name is Viviana Miotto but relatives and friends call me Vivian.

My parents, Antonio and Dora (Gina) Miotto nee Corrado, migrated from Italy to Australia in the early 1950s after the II World War. I am the first of three children and we were all born in Adelaide.

Vivan Miotto, flower girl for the wedding of Anna Maria Vettorello and Angelo Lucchesi, Adelaide, 1959. Photo supplied by Anna Maria Lucchesi.
Rosa Tormena, Vivian, Gina Miotto. Vivian’s first holy communion, St Joseph’s church, Lower North Adelaide, 1962. Photo suplied by Anna Maria Lucchesi.









After nearly 20 years in the land down under my parents decided it was time to return to their homeland as all their siblings lived in the area of Valdobbiadene and Vidor, in the province of Treviso in Veneto.

Map of the Veneto region with Bigolino identified.

At that time, I was 14 years old and found it quite difficult to have to leave the country of my birth, my friends, and the Australian lifestyle. I tried to imagine what my future life would be like in Italy, but I had no idea! I only knew it was going to be very different as I could not speak nor write in Italian very well. Moreover, I didn’t know anyone in Italy, my relatives included, I had never met them and had only seen some of them in photos. My two brothers, Maurizio and Riccardo, are 9 and 7 years younger than me, so they didn’t really think much about what was happening.

Then the day came when our departure by ship from Port Adelaide arrived, all our friends were there to say goodbye, it was very emotional; I felt very upset having to leave everyone I had grown up with during my childhood and whom I felt very close to. Because of the distance between the two countries, I thought I would never see those friends again! It was a terrible feeling! Fortunately, later, as years went by, some of them came to Italy on holiday and with great joy, we met up several times again!

When we arrived in Italy, it was a very foggy winter morning in January. We disembarked from the ship in Genoa, Liguria, where two of my uncles came to meet us. That was my first contact in Italy. We travelled all the way to our new home by car in the fog and it was certainly a hard trip, especially for one of my uncles who drove all the way (about 450 km)!

A view of the entrance to Bigolino. Photo supplied by Vivian Miotto.

We reached Bigolino and finally settled down there. Bigolino is a small village of about 1,500 inhabitants beside the River Piave. It was an enormous change for me comparing it to the suburb of North Adelaide where we used to live, but everyone welcomed us very warmly. This made me feel more comfortable. Our new neighbours had had a similar experience in Canada, so there was immediate contact between our two families.

Aerial view of Bigolino, with the River Piave in the background, date unknown. Photo supplied by Maria Rosa Tormena.

However, my strongest challenge was the Italian language; the Italian school system in those days couldn’t accept my school enrolment because of my lack of command of the language. I recall the difficulty I had in expressing myself in Italian when I arrived and the frustration and loneliness I felt as a result when I couldn’t explain things properly.  I had to study hard and try to sit for a Primary School exam and a second year Middle School exam in six months (the Italian school system is quite different from the Australian one).

Fortunately, I passed both exams and in October I could enrol in the third year of Middle School. This allowed me to go to high school and later continue my studies at University. I must say I was lucky to meet very good teachers along the way who encouraged me to improve my knowledge of the Italian language and become more fluent. I also met some wonderful classmates who helped me to improve my Italian and who I am still in touch with ever since.

It took me a couple of years to learn all about living the Italian way, but once I got more familiar with it, I started to appreciate it.

A view of the piazza at Bigolino. Photo supplied by Vivian Miotto.

It was then the first time that I had to come to terms with the lack of sense of belonging. I started to question my identity and who I really was because I was not quite Italian and yet I certainly didn’t identify with being Australian. I had this internal debate with myself for many years and it has been renewed at various stages of my life. However, later  I decided that I could live comfortably with the fact that I am an Italian and also an Australian, but more Italian than Australian. I adore everything which is Italian such as culture, people, art, literature, and food. It is hard to explain as it is such a personal perception of the way I live it.

Riccardo, Vivian, Maurizio Miotto, outside the church at Castelli di Monfumo, Veneto. Taken on the day of Riccardo’s wedding, 2004. Photo supplied by Vivian Miotto.



This experience has provided me with so many opportunities and I love the fact that I am bilingual. Today I am so thankful to my parents for having done their best by providing me with a set of beliefs and values and helping me build intercultural respect and understanding.


Vivian Miotto
2 July 2023

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