A convict portrayal: The Lewis family portraits by Thomas Bock

Nothing said ‘I’m important’ in 19th century Van Diemen’s Land more than having your portrait done.

The convict artist Thomas Bock was Hobart’s most fashionable portrait painter in the 1840s. The Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts has possibly the largest collection of Bock’s works, and it has just expanded to include an extensive range of portraits of the Lewis family, made between 1835 and 1854.

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Life at The Steppes

A stop at The Steppes was once essential for every traveller in Tasmania’s Central Highlands. On our list of recently digitised materials is a sketchbook of birds and plants  by Marjorie (Madge) Wilson, who was the last resident of the house at The Steppes.

Starting as just a small cabin in the bush, the Wilson family transformed their home into a way-station for travelers and a hub for the highlands community.

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An Antarctic homage: 30 years since the sinking of Nella Dan

Tasmania has hosted many of the most important ships that have ventured to Antarctica. In December 1987 one of these ships, the Nella Dan, ended its journey when it ran aground at Buckles Bay, Macquarie Island.

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House hunting in Launceston

Do you recognise these historic houses from your neighbourhood?

​We have recently digitised a series of photographs of houses around Launceston. They were taken by Stephen Spurling III in the early twentieth century, but not all of them have been identified.

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Bird Woman: Elizabeth Gould and the Birds of Australia

If you’ve been through the Allport gallery recently, you will have noticed the birds. They are familiar birds, with all of the endemic Tasmanian species represented – many visitors will recognise them from their own backyard. And they are lovely. But the thing that convinced us that it was worth getting these prints out for display is the controversy – whose hand created them?

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Bad money in wool and boots: Bankruptcy records in the Tasmanian Names Index

We have added a new category to the Tasmanian Names Index!

Go to Record Type and select Bankruptcy to find the records of over 1600 people who declared either bankruptcy or insolvency between 1821 and 1928.

These include the files of two notable Tasmanians whose fortunes fell on hard times – Thomas Wells and Sylvanus Blundstone.

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The many collections of Morton Allport

Morton Allport (1830-1878) was an avid naturalist. You may have seen his collection of bird’s eggs on display as part of our exhibition Bird Woman. The eggs are on loan from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, where they form part of their natural history specimen collection.

So how did Morton’s collection of shells end up at the library? Continue reading “The many collections of Morton Allport”

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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