The Theatre Royal – Australia’s oldest continually operating live theatre

Where theatrical performances were enjoyed by the light of sperm whale oil lamps and theatre goers could enjoy a tipple in the tavern underneath. Through name changes, alterations, additions and a fire, Hobart’s Theatre Royal has survived the ravages of time.

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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”

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.

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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”