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The potential forensic significance of convict archives from Van Diemen’s Land, 1820-1877

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 12:40 authored by Byard, RW, Hamish Maxwell-StewartHamish Maxwell-Stewart
In recognition of their international importance, the convict records of Australia were placed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register in 2007 [1]. This overview provides an account of recent work resulting from the digitization of an important part of this archive - the records for convicts transported to the British colony of Van Diemen’s Land in the first half of the nineteenth century. Although incomplete in areas, this large and complex collection of registers and associated papers has considerable potential as a starting point for an investigation of the health status and sociological characteristics of a migrant population and their descendants over many generations. Recent collaborations have resulted in the digitization of a large section of this collection, and linkage to other classes of historical records have created opportunities for many researchers, as well as providing family historians with access to a treasure trove of information. From a forensic perspective the archives are significant in that the data contained could be used to facilitate an analysis of the nature of lethal natural diseases in this population, as well as the impact of punishments and other environmental insults on health, including intergenerational outcomes.


Australian Research Council

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Publication title

Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology








School of Humanities


Humana Press, Inc.

Place of publication

United States

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Copyright 2017 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC

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Expanding knowledge in human society

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