Educational Resource

It is the aim of this educational resource [1] to build school pupils 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 touches on specific topics, crime history and colonialism, but also aims to enhance awareness of, and strengthen existing, critical and digital skills.


The Neptune. From Wikimedia Commons.

In order to do this a number of schools in the Liverpool/Merseyside area were visited. 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. Based on their responses and experiences during the workshop the educational resource was adapted. They were asked to trace and bring together the lives of specific convicts from their trial, to their punishment, to their lives upon release – using the new digital archive The Digital Panopticon. This resource allows pupils to explore the rounded lives of these historical figures, demonstrating that these individuals were not only offenders. By using the resource they can; explore their employment, marriage and family formation evidence. They will gain a hands on experience of building up an historical case study, thereby experiencing the difficulties and benefits of using digital historical sources, and reflect and evaluate on their findings. This resource allows 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.


The Educational Resource

Convict Transportation & the Primary Sources


This education resource comes in four parts;

1 – Background Information

The reading material outlines the history of transportation, including the convicts themselves, the transportation voyage, their time within the colony, briefly looks at Indigenous Australians, and the end of transportation. Further reading and useful digital repositories are also provided.

2 – Workshop Session One

As well as the reading material above, this resource consists of to short two videos embedded above and below [2]. 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. This workshop outlines the primary sources used in Workshop Session Two (below), in doing so it uses a convict case study in order to demonstrate those sources.

3 – Workshop Session Two

This session uses The Digital Panopticon to trace convict lives; complete with twenty-four questions for pupils to answer as they explore the online archive.

4 – Answers to Session Two

This document provides the answers to Workshop Session Two (above).





[1] Public Engagement (PE) Awards Scheme (2016-2017) the University of Liverpool. Awarded to E D Watkins and Prof B Godfrey.

[2] Created by E D Watkins in conjunction with 6media

[3] This educational resource was edited by members of the Digital Panopticon team.