Playing with data: creating bushranger timelines

The bushranger Michael Howe and his gang terrorised Van Diemen’s Land from 1815 until Howe’s death.

Next year will see the two hundredth anniversary of Michael Howe’s final showdown, so we created a timeline of the events that led to Private William Pugh of the 48th Regiment shooting and killing Howe on 21 October 1818 near the Shannon River.

Click on the following image to view the live timeline, then, double-click on any event in the timeline to view the newspaper article about that event.

Play around with the live timeline!

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The convict letters of George Bramwell: Convicted felon, yeoman, farmer, horse dealer and adulterer

Re boxing a series of old legal documents is not my idea of a fun few months. It usually involves simply pulling out the paper clips and pins that damage the old paper and re housing them into crisp white archival folders.

However, whilst re boxing our intestate wills (documents related to people who have died without a will) I discovered three letters written by George Bramwell to his then wife in England.

Still not overly exciting….until I realised George was a convict, and in amongst the polite greetings and formalities he mentions details of his life as a convict. This provides us with a different insight into Van Diemen’s Land than that of the privileged free settler or gentleman farmer.

Continue reading “The convict letters of George Bramwell: Convicted felon, yeoman, farmer, horse dealer and adulterer”

Where the paupers went to die…

Hospital records are like the holy grail of archives. Because medical histories are so personal, they are carefully controlled. In the busy world of a hospital, not every slip of paper could be kept, particularly before computers. By the time 19th and early 20th century records reached the archives, many volumes had gone missing or been destroyed, and only intriguing clues have survived.

Some of the surviving records from the General Hospital in Hobart are the hospital’s registers of deaths (HSD145, 1864-1884) and orders for coffins ‘required for pauper interments’ (HSD146, 1864-1876). These records have now been digitised and added to the Tasmanian Names Index, under the record type ‘deaths’.

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Jack the Leecher

John Turner was a sprightly 21 year old baker when he was transported for stealing a watch, although he was missing a leg. It was the right, from below the knee.

Sometimes we lose track of a convict after they leave the convict system – even if they stay there, committing misdeeds, affronts and offences until long after their original sentence expired. Occasionally they turn up in unexpected places… Continue reading “Jack the Leecher”

Paltry Poultry at the ‘Port: Immigration records in the Tasmanian Names Index

You can now find out more personal details about immigrants to Tasmania in the early 20th century, and the Tasmanian residents who nominated them.

What follows is a tale of disappointment, confusion indignation and despair.

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Daisy Picken in the weeds: Prisoner records in the Tasmanian Names Index

‘Daisy Picken’. It sounded to me like a circus stage name, and conjured up images of an energetic teenage girl with pigtails, like a long-lost cousin of Pippy Longstocking.

We have recently added volumes of prisoner files to the Tasmanian Names Index, and many of them have photographs. Some of them are quite comical – old lags suppressing smirks, stern mouths covered by generous moustaches, looks of surprise…or malice. So, when I looked up Daisy Picken, I was almost surprised to see despair and desperation, and the glistening of tears.  Continue reading “Daisy Picken in the weeds: Prisoner records in the Tasmanian Names Index”

Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux

Firsts are always exciting. We are justifiably proud that we own a copy of Henry Savery’s Hermit of Van Dieman’s Land – the first novel published in Australia.

Recently we found that we also hold two other significant firsts – both in the same volume. First published in 1819, our first edition copy of the Memoirs of J H Vaux is not just a great read. It is officially Australia’s first autobiography and Australia’s first dictionary. Continue reading “Memoirs of James Hardy Vaux”