Manufacturing Reform: Female Convicts and Straw Bonnets

This blog is one of a series that explores in greater depth some of the fascinating stories that we uncovered while researching Duck Trousers, Straw Bonnets, and Bluey: Stories of fabrics and clothing in Tasmania, an exhibition currently on display in the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives Reading Room in Hobart. These blogs are designed to complement the exhibition, expanding some elements of the exhibition story walls to provide more context and different perspectives.


The convict era is one often characterised by stories of harsh punishments and brutality. It is a period remembered for its chain gangs, solitary confinement, hard labour, and infamous lashings of the cat-o’-nine-tails. While this experience was true for many convicts housed in female factories, prisons, and penitentiaries throughout Van Diemen’s Land between 1803 and 1853, when transportation formally ceased, it was not the experience of all. There were exceptions to the rule.

Crowther Library, State Library of Tasmania: Hobart Town Chain Gang / Charles Bruce. Engraving, [between 1830-1831].

One such exception was the Anson Probation Station located on the Derwent River at Prince of Wales Bay. When considering the history and stories that surround this warship-turned-probation-station, one is overwhelmed by images of female convicts working side by side in various manufactories, making woollen garments, straw bonnets, and their own clothing. It presents a story of female reform, ingenuity and arguably, progress that the colonial world was not yet prepared for.

The HMS Anson and Probation

From 1844 to 1849, over 4,000 of the total 12,500 female convicts transported to Van Diemen’s Land undertook a period of probation aboard the HMS Anson, a former warship and male convict transport ship (Schaffer, The Anson, n.d.). Under the initial superintendence of Dr Edmund Bowden and his wife, the Matron, Mrs Phillipa Bowden, the Anson held between 250 and 519 female convicts at any given time for the duration of six months (Williams, “The Archaeological Potential”, 2005, p. 80).

Tasmanian Archives: Photograph – Sketch of H.M.S. Anson – female convict hulk – off Queen’s Domain. (n.d.), PH30/1/1980.

The Anson was an experiment of the probation period following the convict system’s transition from the assignment period in 1839. It was the intention of colonial figureheads, such as Lord Stanley, to reform prisoners through several stages of punishment that decreased in severity overtime. Despite this, there was no single or agreed upon method for how such reform should take place (Sprod, Probation System, 2005). In one instance, the surgeon superintendent of Pentonville Penitentiary, Dr John S Hampton, believed the best instrument of female reformation was marriage (Brand, The Convict Probation System, 1990, p. 94). It can be argued that the reformative practices established on board the Anson were in direct opposition of such a view.

The Evolution of an Idea

It was the initial expectation of the Anson convicts to undertake a daily routine of “early rising, sweeping, cleaning, sewing and scripture reading” (Kavanagh, et. el., Van Diemen’s Women, 2015, p. 133), however, Mrs Bowden sought more substantial employment for her prisoners. She did so by venturing into the world of manufacturing. Mrs Bowden took steps towards such by having the convicts make their own attire:

All the clothes for the female convicts were sent out from England ready-made, and thus […] there were no means of giving prisoners employment, even by the manufacture of the very clothes they wear. [.. Mrs Bowden applied] to the government at home to have the unmade materials sent out, so that she might give them to the convicts to cut out and make their own wearing apparel.

The Cornwall Chronicle, Sept 8, 1847, p.4.

It was reported in the Hobart Town Gazette that female convicts were provided items including a cotton or stuff gown, or petticoat, and a jacket and apron, which were likely all made of “cheap and coarse materials” (Oct. 10, 1829, p. 4). It is likely then, that the Anson convicts made at least some of these items upon Mrs Bowden’s instruction.

Tasmanian Archives: Plan-Ship, Anson-profile-as fitted out for a female convict ship-and mooring. Architect, Chatham Yard, U.K. (1843), PWD266/1/683.

Mrs Bowden’s manufacturing endeavours had varying degrees of success. While a plan to make and sell shirts did not achieve its intended outcomes, there is evidence to suggest processes of wool manufacture were carried out onboard. As reported in the Launceston Examiner:

Employment is found for others in this establishment, in the manufacture of stockings from wool, the whole process of which in washing, carding, spinning, knitting, and dying, is completed on board.

Launceston Examiner, Nov. 16, 1850, p.5.

Woollen items such as “hose for women” were made and sent out to ordinance stores for sale. It is not surprising, after her success, that Mrs Bowden strove to install an industry that was yet to be established in Hobart Town – straw bonnet manufacturing.

A Bonnet Manufactory on the Derwent

The bonnet was a fashionable accessory for women in England throughout the 19th Century and the design changed and adapted to suit the fashions and hairstyles of the time. In the early years of the 1800s, for instance, the Poke Bonnet was “all the rage” (Amphlett, Hats, 2003, p. 132), while the version of the 1820s became exaggerated to accommodate higher hairstyles. This continued into the 1830s in which the bonnet took its most lavish and extreme form (Black and Garland, A History of Fashion, 1975, p.185). By 1836, the bonnet began to shrink, and a funnel shape characterised those of the 1840s. According to a 1904 article published in The Queenslander, by 1846 “a very demure style of bonnet was worn” (April 16, 1904, p.7). The article continues:

The brim and crown were continuous, and it set flat on the head. The edge of the crown was adorned with a wreath of flowers, and the only trimming of the flat part consisted of parallel bands of ribbon or velvet. There was very little space under the brim, and no cap front was worn. The cap front was dispersed with because it would have eclipsed the beauty of the hairdressing which was visible under the bonnet in sausage shaped rolls on either side of the face.

The Queenslander, April 16, 1904, p.7.

It is unlikely that such finishings of flowers and velvet adorned the bonnets made by the convict women aboard the Anson, however, it is known that they were made of straw. It was also confirmed by the Hobart Town Advertiser that the bonnets were made in the “stylish polka” and “pretty cottage” styles (Sept. 14, 1847, p.4).

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Tasmanian State Library: Woman in a black bonnet: possibly Mrs. Georgina Butler. [Between 1845 and 1855].
Tasmanian Archives: Photograph – Lady in bonnet, pencil drawing. NS5198/1/27

There were several established bonnet shops in Hobart Town during this time, although none had the necessary machinery to manufacture their own bonnets (The Cornwall Chronicle, Sept. 18, 1847, p. 4). To many this would have posed an obstacle, but to Mrs Bowden, it was an opportunity for innovation. Mrs Bowden recounted such in 1850 when she noted that “some ingenious women on board [..] succeeded in making straw splitters out of beef bones; these were followed by other necessaries” (Launceston Examiner, p. 5). According to the Cornwall Chronicle, “Mrs. Bowden obtained some straw, and ere long had taught herself to make [a straw bonnet]” (Sept. 18, 1847, p.4). Having acquired the necessities for bonnet making, the Anson manufactory was established with 150 female convicts partaking in the operation while others contributed to the woollen manufacture (The Cornwall Chronicle, Sept. 18, 1847, p. 4).

A Formidable Woman at the Helm

Despite Mrs Bowden’s success in her role as Matron, and later sole superintendent following the death of her husband in 1847, the Anson Probation Station was not destined for longevity. In its time the Anson was regarded by some as an exception to the common view of Van Diemen’s Land and most notably it was regarded an “El Dorado” of the convict system:

Mrs Bowden has accomplished much indeed for the reformation of women. We do not wonder at the young woman wishing to make her escape from misery and starvation in England, to such an “El Dorado” as the Anson.

The Hobart Town Advertiser, Sept. 14, 1847

Despite this, many, even in hindsight, consider the Anson a failure alongside the probation system. Kay Daniels contends that the Anson was unfit for service and Mrs Bowden, upon returning to England, left Van Diemen’s Land without successfully implementing her plans for widespread reform (Convict Women, 1998, p. 128). This reflects the opinion of many in the press at the time who wrote of Mrs Bowden in critical, often patriarchal terms:

[Mrs Bowden] will look with despondency, if not despair, and turning to her husband will say, “I really wish we were back in England again.” Stop a little Mrs B., do not despair, we will take leave to give you a plan by which you will be able to reform these idle, silly creatures. Make them usefully industrious, and you effect your purpose; they will then become useful servants and complete the reformation by becoming industrious and happy wives and mothers.

Colonial Times, May 6, 1845, p. 2.
The Hulk “Anson”. (1845, May 6). Colonial Times (1828-1857).

To say Mrs Bowden was unsuccessful does not recognise the feats of a woman in a patriarchal world as the above quote attests to. Patrick Howard, supports this, arguing that Mrs Bowden was the mainspring of penal reform, despite the odds that were against her (To Hell or to Hobart, 1993, p. 134). Furthermore, the progressiveness of the Anson Establishment is perhaps due to the assertion that Mrs Bowden saw the women on board as more than the crimes they had committed, more than “idle, silly creatures”. Her dedication to the cause of reform and employment indicates her recognition of their basic human rights, as did the provision of the basic dignity of a fashionable piece of headwear upon their leave. Mrs Bowden wrote in hindsight:

Until the introduction of straw bonnet making on board, nearly all the poor women were obliged to leave us for going to service without any bonnet. On representation to Sir E. Wilmot, they were permitted to be supplied with one.

Launceston Examiner, Nov. 16, 1850, p. 5.

Therefore, while some have argued that the probation period was “a disastrous failure” (Sprod, Probation System, 2005) it can be ascertained that Mrs Bowden and her establishment, with regard to female reformation and progress, were indeed an exception to the rule.


State Library Sources

Amphlett, H. (2003). Hats: A History of Fashion in Headwear. Dover Publications.

Anderson Black, J. and Garland, M. (1975). A History of Fashion. 2nd Ed. Rev. by Kennett, F. (1980). Orbis.

Brand, I. (1990). The Convict Probation System, Van Diemen’s Land 1839-1854: A Study of the Probation System of Convict Discipline. Blubber Head Press.

Daniels, K. (1998). Convict Women. Allen & Unwin.

Kavanagh, J., Snowden, D., and McAleese, M. (2015). Van Diemen’s Women: A History of Transportation to Tasmania. History Press.

Howard, P. (1993). To Hell or to Hobart: The Story of an Irish Convict Couple Transported to Tasmania in the 1840s. Kangaroo Press Pty. Ltd.

Archival Sources

Tasmanian Archives: Photograph – Lady in bonnet, pencil drawing. NS5198/1/27

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Tasmanian State Library: Woman in a black bonnet: possibly Mrs. Georgina Butler. [Between 1845 and 1855].

Tasmanian Archives: Plan-Ship, Anson-profile-as fitted out for a female convict ship-and mooring. Architect, Chatham Yard, U.K. (1843), PWD266/1/683.

Tasmanian Archives: Photograph – Sketch of H.M.S. Anson – female convict hulk – off Queen’s Domain. (n.d.). PH30/1/1980

W.L. Crowther Library, State Library and Archive Service: Hobart Town Chain Gang / Charles Bruce. Engraving, [between 1830-1831].

Newspaper Sources

Discipline at the Anson. (1847, September 14). The Hobart Town Advertiser (Tas.: 1839 – 1861), p. 4. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from

Female Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land. (1847, September 18). The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tas.: 1835 – 1880), p. 4. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from

Female Convicts. (1829, October 10). The Hobart Town Gazette (Tas.: 1825 – 1833), p. 4. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from

The “Anson” Establishment. (1850, November 16). Launceston Examiner (Tas.: 1842 – 1899), p. 5. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from

The History of the Bonnet. (1904, April 16). The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld.: 1866 – 1939), p. 7. Retrieved April 19, 2023, from

Journal Articles

Williams, B. (2005). “The Archaeological Potential of Colonial Prison Hulks: The Tasmanian case study”. The Journal of the Australasian Institute for Maritime Archaeology, 29, pp. 77-86.

Online Sources

Schaffer, I. (n.d.). The Anson – history of the ship. Retrieved April 19, 2023, from

Sprod, M. (2005). Probation System, in The Companion to Tasmanian History, ed. Alison Alexander, Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, Accessed April 19, 2023,

Introducing our new exhibition: Duck Trousers, Straw Bonnets, and Bluey: Stories of Fabrics and Clothing in Tasmania

Duck trousers, straw bonnets, and bluey: the history of Tasmanian textiles and clothing is filled with colourful and unique garments, characters, and stories. Stories like that of Joseph Bidencope, a skilful tailor and milliner from Poland, whose popular hats made in Battery Point were exhibited to great success at the Philadelphia International Exhibition in 1876. Or the many stories of the female convicts housed in the factories at Cascades and Ross – some of whom were imprisoned for stealing aprons, bonnets, and jackets – who made, embroidered, and laundered clothing.

These stories- and many more- are at the heart of a new free exhibition Duck Trousers, straw bonnets, and Bluey: Stories of Fabrics and Clothing in Tasmania currently on display in the State Library of Tasmania and Tasmanian Archives Reading Room in Hobart. The exhibition has original records and heritage books from the Tasmanian Archive and State Library collection on display, along with information and images in our new exhibition space.

Launceston Manuscript Collection, Tasmanian Archives: Photograph – Waverley Woollen Mills Warehouse, 77 York St, Launceston – Half plate (1898-1900), LPIC32/1/3

The exhibition tells five intertwined stories. The first story focuses on the history of the Tasmanian Bluey otherwise known as the Miner’s Bluey, a waterproof and durable coat fashioned for the Tasmanian climate. “A Tale of two Woollen Mills” examines a pivotal series of events in the development of the wool industry in Tasmania in the 1860s and 70s, and in particular how two competing woollen companies were established in the north and the south of the state. The techniques used in tanning for the production of leather (and in particular the unique Tasmanian bark used) and shoemaking in Tasmania is the focus of the third story wall, entitled “We all take our shoes very much for granted.” Another story focuses on “Bidencope’s: Hobart’s House of Quality”, telling the story of the tailor Joseph Bidencope and the renowned retail store that he founded on Murray Street. The final story is entitled “A very serious want of cloathing…” and focuses on convicts making and laundering a range of different clothing. It ends with an examination of a riot at the Launceston Female Factory in 1842, in which the women armed themselves with spindles.

State Library of Tasmania: With J. Bidencope’s compliments. [Hobart, Tasmania] : [J. Bidencope & Son], [between 1890 and 1899?]

Over the next few months, the State library and Archive Service team will publish a series of blogs that explore in greater depth some of the fascinating stories that we uncovered during our research. These blogs are designed to complement the exhibition, expanding some elements of the exhibition story walls to provide more context and other perspectives.

Whatever in the world are ‘Duck Trousers’?

No animals were harmed in the making of duck trousers! The name comes from the Dutch word for canvas, which is ‘Doek’. Duck trousers were essentially thick linen canvas trousers, not unlike Moleskins. Duck trousers were the most common type of trousers in the early colony of Hobart Town; they would have been worn by both convicts as well as free men and were prized for their durability.

In the exhibition, duck trousers feature on our convict wall, telling the story of how clothes were made by convicts on their way to Van Diemen’s Land. Our story focuses on the men on board the Pestonjee Bomangee, that arrived in Hobart Town in 1845. Amongst the Tasmanian Archive collection we have a list (CON121/1/1) of the various clothing items that were made during this journey, including a lot of duck trousers.

Tasmanian Archives: List of packages of Government clothing made on board the Pestonjee Bomangee (1845), CON121/1/1

A sneak peak of the images on display

We are really excited to have on display in this exhibition many wonderful images from our Tasmanian Archive and State Library collections. Many of these images have been placed into a Duck Trousers, Straw Bonnets and Bluey Flickr Album for you to enjoy at anytime.

Duck Trousers, Straw Bonnets, and Bluey: Stories of fabrics and clothing in Tasmania will be on show until the end of August.

Tasmanian Archives: Photograph – Garrett & Co. Pty Ltd, Clothing Manufacturers – Interior view (1920), NS1202/1/2

Tasmania Reads: Reading a Convict Record (Part Two: The Answer and Historical Background)

The State Library and Archive Service is issuing a challenge to Tasmanians to read five different examples of nineteenth-century handwriting from our Heritage Collections, each featuring a different set of records held in the State Archives.

Just to recap:

Your Transcription Challenge

Your second challenge is to transcribe the conduct record of Isaac Solomon. The information in this section of the conduct record was mostly self-reported by convicts on their arrival to Van Diemen’s Land during the assignment period (pre-1840).

Tasmanian Archives: Isaac Solomon, Conduct Registers of Male Convicts arriving in the Period of the Assignment System (1831), CON31/1/39 page 161

This section of the convict record is in the top right-hand corner and usually included what the convict was transported for, their gaol report, the hulk report, marital status, what offences the convict stated they were convicted for and former convictions and the Surgeon’s report.

Hint:  Convict records, commonly used abbreviations .

The Answer

Transported for receiving stolen goods Gaol report Before transported Hulk report Married 5 children Stated this offence Received stolen goods transported about 20 years ago for a pocketbook Pardoned in 3 or 4 years afterwards as Moses Joseph was sent to Sydney for the same Offence Wife and family in this Colony. Married six children.

Historical Background: Who was Isaac Solomon?

This is the conduct record of Isaac Solomon who was transported on the William Glen Anderson in 1831.  Isaac Solomon, more frequently known as Ikey Solomon, is widely believed to be the inspiration for Dickens character of Fagin in Oliver Twist. Fagin was of Jewish descent as was Ikey Solomon. Fagin is an anagram of the Yiddish word for thief, ganif.

Dicken’s portrayal of him has been described as, “one of the most notorious antisemitic portraits in English literature.”  In Oliver Twist he describes Fagin as a very shrivelled old Jew, whose villainous-looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair. (Dickens, Oliver Twist, p42)

Author Bryce Courtenay continues in a similar vein – extending his insults to include Ikey’s wife Ann in The Potato Factory. Courtenay describes Ikey and Hannah Solomon as creatures of the dark hours, dirty furtive and predatory – who are so consumed by greed and hate that they are unable to form meaningful relationships or make a go of it in the new colony.

Tasmanian Archives: Isaac Soloman, Description Lists of Male Convicts, CON18/1/21 Image 122 . During his lifetime Ikey was described as a ladies man, a dandy and handsome.

 In her court appearance at the Old Bailey in 1827 where she was convicted of receiving stolen goods, his wife Ann was described as dressed elegantly. She was sentenced to be transported to Van Diemens Land and arrived on the Mermaid in June 1828, aged thirty-five.

There can be no doubt that Ikey was a very successful career criminal. He was charismatic and this along with his wealth, made him many friends, both male and female, with many in positions of authority and influence. Some writers say he was probably a member of the Masonic Society, and as such would have been protected by that society. He was at the height of his career one of the richest men in London, and credited by the popular press as the Prince of Fences, and a notorious receiver

The story of Isaac Solomon and his family is a fascinating one, and it has been written many times.  T. Garth Hyland writes a fictionalised and well researched account of Ikey Solomon’s life and adventures that’s intertwined with his own family history in Thanks a lot, Guv!  and John S. Levi & G.F. J. Bergman devote a chapter to him  in Australian Genesis: Jewish convicts and settlers  . The chapter is tellingly titled, “Fagin in Australia”. 

The First Fagin: the true story of Ikey Solomon, by Judith Sackville-O’Donnell is the most recent account held in the State Library of Tasmania’s collection.  Published in 2002 it aims to be a corrective to the harsh portrayal of Fagin and Ikey in fiction.  Sackville -O’Donnell claim that it’s also a love story.  Sackville-O’Donnell’s version has been made into a DVD also titled, The First Fagin that it seamlessly blends reconstructed dramatic sequences with historical documentary.

J.J. Tobias’s book follows on from his BBC radio series on Ikey. He has made a career of writing on crime and police in England.  Tobais’s publication “Prince of Fences: the life and crimes of Ikey Solomon”  draws on the official records of the Tasmanian State Archives and the Public Records office of London.

There are lending copies of all books and the DVD for you to enjoy so I’m not going to give you the full story here. 

If you decided you wanted to write your own version of the Ikey Solomon story – what angle would you take? Would it be a tale of anti-semitism, a love story, a true crime documentary, an account of life and crime in London in the early 19th century, an expose of Governor Arthur’s convict system where wealthy and skilled convicts were treated differently?  Or might it be an expose of the wealthy and influential contacts Ikey had in VDL in arrival, or perhaps a tale of how Jewish people survived in early Australia?

As well as the books and DVD mentioned previously you can also access the multitude of archival records held on the Solomons.

Search our catalogue for  Archival records  and Names Index records for Ikey. Most of the records for Ann are included with Ikeys. But here are the links to her own convict records:  Ann Solomons (sic)

We also have a very extensive research file that will give you access to many other records and newspaper accounts. If you are interested in the research file,  submit a research enquiry ask for Isaac Solomon’s research file and we will send you a summary of the contents with instructions on how to obtain copies.

This is presumed to be a picture of Ikey Solomons on the doorstep of his tobacconist shop in Elizabeth Street, Hobart. Tasmanian Archives: Photograph – Side view of Ikey Solomon’s shop in Elizabeth Street, Hobart (1860), PH30/1/700.


Tasmanian Archive Sources

Miscellaneous Photographs, PH30/1/700, Photograph – Side View of Solomon’s Shop in Elizabeth Street, Hobart
Convict Department, Conduct Registers of Male Convicts Arriving in the Period of the Assignment System CON31/1/39 page 161
Convict Department, Description List of Male Convicts, CON18/1/21 Image122

State Library Sources

We hold many different formats and versions of these two publications

Bryce Courtney, The Potato Factory

Charles Dickens,  Oliver Twist  

T. Garth Hyland, Thanks a lot, Guv! : the stories of John Ireland (Hyland) & Harriet James, James & Sophia Gunyon, James Britton, William Heard (Hurd), Isaac (Ikey) & Ann Solomon, Sandy Bay, T Garth Hyland c.2004

John S Levi, and G.F.J.  Bergman, Australian genesis : Jewish convicts and settlers, 1788-1860, Carlton South, Vic, Melbourne University  Press, 2002

Judith Sackville-O’Donnell, The first Fagin : the true story of Ikey Solomon, Melbourne, Acland Press, 2002 

Helen Gaynor, The first Fagin [DVD] written and directed by Helen Gaynor, Alan Rosenthal, Canberra, A.C.T. Ronin Films, 2012

Newspapers accounts

“Ikey Solomons, his apprehension, and transmission to the country for trial.”, Morning Chronicle [newspaper], July 10, 1829, London, England  

Old Bailey”, Examiner [newspaper], December 12, 1824, London, England

Additional Reading

P.R. Eldershaw, Guide to the Public Records of Tasmania, Section three, Convict Department, Hobart, Tas. Archives Office, 1965

Susan Hood, Transcribing Convict Records, Port Arthur Tas, Port Arthur Management Authority, 2003.

Tasmania Reads: Reading an Account of the Voyage of a Convict Transport (Part One: The Challenge)

The State Library and Archive Service is issuing a challenge to Tasmanians to read five different examples of nineteenth-century handwriting from our Heritage Collections, each featuring a different set of records held in the State Archives.

The scripts are selected to give you insights into some of the key strengths of our collection and we hope they will pique your interest to explore further.

As the week progresses, the challenge will get a bit more difficult, as you become more familiar with reading script. 

Each challenge will consist of two blogs. The morning blog will contain your transcription challenge, while the afternoon blog will provide the answer, as well as historical background to the events discussed in the challenge task. There will also be recommendations of other resources held in the Libraries Tasmania collections on the topic for you to explore.

Your Transcription Challenge

Your first challenge is to transcribe a passage from the account of the voyage of the Female Transport, Garland Grove (2) in 1842/1843:

Tasmanian Archives: Abraham Harvey, Reminiscences of a Voyage on the Female Convict Ship Garland Grove, p.4 (1842-43), NS816/1/1.  Abraham Harvey was the 2nd Officer on board the Garland Grove, which left England in August 1842 and arrived in Van Diemen’s Land in January 1843.

The Answer …

will be published in our blog this afternoon. Stay tuned!

Recently Digitised Material: January-June 2022

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania heritage collections.

Read on to find out about new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue and Tasmanian Names Index or visit us on FlickrYouTube and Instagram.

In this blog:

  • Thomas Bock’s notes on photography, including Talbot’s calotype process and daguerreotypes – Ref: ALL34/1/1
  • Star of Tasmanian shipboard journal (1859-60) – Ref: NS7221/1/1
  • Journals of Separate Prison wardens, Tasman Peninsula (1860, 1863) – Ref CON91/1/2-3
  • Descriptive Lists of Male and Female Convicts to Be Embarked for Van Diemen’s Land from Various Prisons in the United Kingdom, (1839-50). Ref: CON114/1/1-8
  • Convict credit and gratuity books, Tasman Peninsula (1865-68). Ref: CON130/1/1-3
  • Register of Convicts for Whom Enquiries were Made (1850-68). Ref: GO121/1/1
  • Tasmanian Birth Registers (1921) – RGD33/2/5 to 8
  • Female Admissions, Royal Derwent Hospital (1898-1903) – Ref: AB365/1/13
  • Copies of Wills Recording Granting of Probate (1868-1874) – Ref: AD960/1/8, AD960/1/9
  • Daguerreotype and ambrotype portraits – Ref: NS5465/1/1-3
  • Launceston Collection of Photographs of Ships – Ref: LMSS761/1/1-490
  • Hobart Town by Ensign Kemp from behind my quarters / W.H. Kemp
  • Artworks by Knud Geelmuyden Bull
  • Mount Wellington from Bellerive, artist unknown
  • Mount Lyell mines map,1896
  • Glass plate negatives from AA Rollings Collection – Ref: NS1553/2/1 to 34
Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material: January-June 2022”

10 ways to boost your Tasmanian Names Index searches

There have been some recent enhancements to how you can search the Tasmanian Names Index.

We have added more fields to the search filters on the drop-down menu to the left of the search bar. Some of these have always been there (while some are new additions). Many of you might not have been aware of the drop-down menu at all, but it can be a useful tool for refining your searches in our ever-expanding database of Tasmanian life.

Here is a short guide to what those options mean and when it might be useful to use them.

Continue reading “10 ways to boost your Tasmanian Names Index searches”

Recently Digitised Material: July-September 2021

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania.

Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue and Tasmanian Names Index or visit us on Flickr, YouTube and Instagram.

In this blog:

  • Richard Simson Photographic Collection – Ref: NS6351/1/1-95
  • Albums of Gladys Midwood – Ref: NS6759/1/2-3
  • Photographic Albums by Margaret Smithies, Ernest George Record and the McDowell family
  • Tasmanian Government Railways
  • 1920s aerial view of Hobart city block bounded by Murray, Harrington, Liverpool and Melville Street looking North from behind His Majesty’s Theatre and Hobart Rivulet – Ref: NS892/1/61
  • Artworks of Launceston
  • Emu Bay by Thomas Unwin
  • The Pests of the Prince by Henry Manly
  • TGR Williams glass plate negatives – Ref: NS1409/1/46-48
  • Judges notes on capital offences committed at Norfolk Island, 1846 – Ref: CSO20/1/449
  • Burial Plot Maps, Cornelian Bay Cemetery 1915-16 – Ref: AF86/1/1
  • Wills from AD960/1/5
  • 1829 journal written from London to Van Diemans Land by John Owen Lord – Ref: NS301/1/2
Continue reading “Recently Digitised Material: July-September 2021”

Recently Digitised Material

This blog features some of the recently digitised items from the Tasmanian Archives and the State Library of Tasmania. Each year, we place items online to help promote and preserve our rare and special collections. These images and films are just a tiny sample of an amazing treasure trove of Tasmania’s heritage. From colonial artwork to convict records, from fragile glass plate negatives to rare films, from private letters to government records, our collections (including the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts and the W L Crowther Collection) tell literally millions of stories from Tasmania and around the world.

Read on to find out more about our new additions to our digital collections! To discover even more, you can also search our catalogue or visit us on Flickr and YouTube.

In this blog:

  • Glass Plate Negatives of Sea Captains, c1920 – Ref: NS6192
  • Stereoscopic Views of the ‘Franklin Relics,’ 1860 – Ref: NS1155
  • Mt Biscoff Tin Mine Photographs – Ref: NS6719
  • Gentleman Jim, 1942 – Reference: Ref: NS4264/1/5
  • Hobart High School Photos – Ref: AG162/1/6
  • Charles Street School Register 1902-08 – Ref: AB753/1/1
  • Return of Convicts Embarked for Port Arthur by the Ships Tamar, Isabella, Shamrock, and Lady Franklin (1834-1855). Ref: CON126/1/1
  • Return of Money Forfeited by Prisoners at Port Arthur (1864). Ref: CON132/1/1
  • Letter from the Colonial Secretary to the Commandant, Port Arthur (1834). Ref: CON86/1/2
  • Film: Timber Makes News, 1947 – Ref: AC672/1/219
  • Film: Les Skelly talking about Tiger Hill, 1986-9 – Ref: NS1391/1/1
  • Film: Burnie Mill, 1956 – Ref: AC672/1/1

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Esther’s Story, Part Three: The Cascades Female Factory and Brickfields Invalid Depot, 1870-1877

In 1870, a horrific assault took place at the Cascades Female Factory. At eight o’clock in the morning on the 13th of July, a woman named Eliza Osborne beat an elderly woman named Ellen Conway with the iron dinner bell. She hit her in the head so hard that the bell cracked. Ellen Conway was a 73 year old ex-convict who had been sent to the depot for begging. One of the people who rushed to her side to help her was the nurse, Mrs Cecilia Eliza Paul. A few kilometers away (about 25 minutes’ walk), the nurse’s daughter ten year old Esther Mary Paul was also a witness – to her uncle George’s marriage at the family home at Cross Street, Sandy Bay.

This week in Esther’s story, we break away from the whaling logbook where we first found her as a five year old girl. Now we’ll trace her and her parents through two institutions which housed the most vulnerable people in Hobart in the 1870s – the Brickfields Invalid Depot and the Cascades Establishment. To piece that story together, we have to jump forward and backward in time a little bit, but I promise it is worth the journey!

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Reading, Writing & Arithmetic: The Public School Curriculum 150 Years Ago

What would you have learned at a Tasmanian public school in 1869? Mostly, just reading, writing and arithmetic, from a teacher not much older than yourself, in a class of 40-60 students, and in a textbook that your grandfather might have read in Ireland thirty years earlier. The texts might have been boring and out of date, but the reasons why are fascinating. That’s because the public school curriculum in 1869 was deliberately designed to be bland and uninteresting, in order to avoid social conflict. What follows is the story of a journey – from the idea that education needed to reform and contain children, to the radical idea that children in public schools should be inspired to learn, and to become curious and informed citizens. Read on to discover more!

For an audio introduction to this story, check out our interview with ABC Radio!

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