Convict Transportation and Public Engagement

Prof Barry Godfrey and myself were awarded funding from the Public Engagement (PE) Awards Scheme (2016-2017) by the University of Liverpool to produce an educational resource. It is the hope that this PE Award would allow the building of public understanding of historical crime and punishment, but also enhance awareness of the innovative methodologies used within criminological/crime history research. This at a time when the importance of history to the national curriculum is being questioned. Part of the development of this resource involved providing a workshop for school pupils. This workshop not only touched on specific topics, crime history and colonialism, but also enhance awareness of, and strengthen existing, critical and digital skills.

In order to do this I visited a number of schools in the Liverpool/merseyside area. The workshop involved introducing school pupils to, and getting them to use for themselves, primary digital sources. Not only did they have hands on experience of primary sources, they were also set specific tasks to complete and questions to answer. They were asked to trace and bring together two specific convicts from a trial using digital resources  (i.e. http://www.oldbaileyonline.org//), to their punishment (i.e. http://linctas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/) and social lives in Australia (i.e. http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper). They explored the rounded lives of these historical figures, demonstrating that these individuals were not only offenders; they explored their employment, marriage and family formation evidence. They were given both a hands on experience of building up an historical case study, thereby experiencing the difficulties and benefits of using digital historical sources, and reflecting and evaluating on their findings.These events allowed school pupils to have an opportunity to learn about the wider understanding of crime and punishment, and to interactively use the documents on which much of this historical research is pinned.

Now that the Digital Panopticon website has launched the guide will be updated to focus on this new digital resource which will then be made available here as soon as possible. The Digital Panopticon project is a large AHRC-funded project. The Digital Panopticon’s Larissa Allwork (Impact Officer) has also produced fantastic educational resources for AS and A Level pupils and GCSE pupils.

The workshops also consisted of a short talk using a series of digital resources, including short two videos embedded above and below (specifically made for this project by myself in conjunction with 6media). Video 1: The Changing Frequency of Convict Transportation (below) uses a digital map with a time-lapse showing the number and frequency of ships leaving Britain for Van Diemen’s Land (formerly Tasmania) in Australia. Video 2: The Statistics of Convict Transportation (above) consists of visualisation of the statistics of the transportation system in the form of accessible, moving graphs.

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