At the FCRC seminar held on Sunday 2 May 2021, President, Dr Dianne Snowden AM, presented four longstanding and hardworking FCRC committee members with a special award recognising their contribution over many years.
Dianne also acknowledged the significant contribution of the FCRC’s transcribers and volunteers: ‘Without the dedication of the Female Convicts Research Centre database team, particularly Colette McAlpine and Elaine Crawford, and our many transcribers, in Australia and overseas, our knowledge of the lives of Van Diemen’s Land’s convict women would be much the poorer’.
From L:R Dr Alison Alexander, Ros Escott, Colette McAlpine and Elaine Crawford with Dianne.
Photo Credit: Maureen Martin Ferris
The Cascades Female Factory Historic Site is temporarily closing its doors on Wednesday 26 May 2021 in order to begin construction on a NEW History and Interpretation Centre. An entirely new experience, the History and Interpretation Centre will be a world-class facility that emotionally connects you to the stories of triumph and tragedy of Australia's convict women and their children. Construction by Hansen Yuncken will commence in early June, with a view to reopening to the public in December later this year.
The design of the History and Interpretation Centre was the result of an international design competition held in 2017. Tasmanian firm, Liminal Studio, in conjunction with Snøhetta and Rush Wright, were selected as winners of the competition with the jury commending their design for its sympathetic approach to the heritage context and for its potential to engage the visitors and heighten their experience of the place, its history and significance.
This project was made possible thanks to the support and commitment of the Tasmanian and Commonwealth governments, and are incredibly grateful to have received $3 million grant funding from the Tasmanian State Government and just over $2 million from the Commonwealth.
They are deeply committed to ensuring our heritage is not only protected for future generations but that the stories of the women convicts and their children are told and better understood.
Peter MacFie is a sixth-generation Tasmanian with 40 years’ experience as a public historian, including eight years as the resident historian at Port Arthur Historic Site from 1983-91.
Peter has had published several books and many articles covering aspects of Tasmanian social history. These include ‘Underground Hobart’, ‘Stocks, Thieves and Golfers’, and recently ‘The Newsprint’ for which Peter interviewed over 100 Derwent Valley families spanning 15 years.
Since 2004 Peter has written books plus tour and trail guides for local governments and businesses, appeared on radio and delivered a paper on musicology at Cambridge University, UK.
As a much-admired musician and musicologist Peter rediscovered the arrangements and tunes composed by the convict fiddler Alexander Laing, publishing these as ‘On The Fiddle’. Peter’s compositions and songs are also posted on YouTube. His other musical interests include Tasmanian rock and folk music bands.
Peter has been awarded a ‘Distinguished Service Award’ from the College of Arts, Law and Education’ from the University of Tasmania in recognition of ‘Exceptional and sustained contributions to historical research and as an alumnus and staff member at the University of Tasmania’ on 25 September 2020.
Unfortunately, due to the onset of a severe neurological degenerative disease Peter can no longer write or perform music although his editor is preparing further works including the ‘Wesleyans of Port Arthur’. (Prepared by Robert HA MacFie (brother) May 2021)
The fascinating story of Norah Cobbett marks a great achievement for our prolific story writer Don Bradmore. This latest contribution is the 50th story Don has written for FCRC. In each of the stories on the lives of our female convicts Don has woven a background of historical context which gives the reader a glimpse into 19th century life in Van Diemen’s Land. Norah Cobbett, a convict described as both notorious and charismatic, is immortalized, with her husband Jorgen Jorgenson (self-proclaimed King of Iceland), in the carvings on the famous convict-built Ross bridge. Norah's life story, like that of many other convict women, has previously been overshadowed by the tales of her adventurous husband, who was very much involved in VDL’s ‘Black Wars’. Now Don’s work has shone a spotlight on her short and troubled life.
Don’s stories for the FCRC have featured meticulous research on diverse topics such as opiate use on babies. The women he portrays cover the spectrum of convict experience, from those who became successful businesswomen, to those who married and settled down to raise a family and those whose troubled circumstances prompted a descent into intoxication and dereliction. One of Don's stories features a memorable convict woman who gained her freedom by saving her husband from being killed by a bushranger - and also captured the bushranger! Many thanks to Don and our wonderful team of transcribers and volunteers, who contribute the threads that get woven into these great stories. We look forward to many more stories from Don. You can read Norah's story and many more here.
Norah Cobbett immortalised on the convict-built Ross Bridge, Macquarie River, Ross, Tasmania.
Source: Debra Cadogan-Cowper
The From the Shadows Committee is pleased to announce the successful installation of their first statue, female convict ‘Martha Gregory’. The statue was installed in Degraves Street, South Hobart, opposite the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site. On Tuesday 16 February 2021, limited by COVID-19 restrictions, a small, ticketed event took place in glorious sunshine.
Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania with Brydie Pearce unveiled the statue to the delight of the small gathering. Brydie, a descendant of Martha Gregory, was chosen by Rowan Gillespie as the model for the statue. Martha Gregory was tried in Warwick, England, on 24 March 1806 and sentenced to transportation for 7 years for 'stealing printed cotton in a dwelling house'. Martha arrived in Van Diemen's Land via Sydney, as did so many early female convicts. She was the wife of Thomas Beames, District Constable at Port Dalrymple. Her statue represents all convict women, especially convict mothers.
Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority are glad to announce that the publication Transcribing Tasmanian Convict Records by Susan Hood is now available for purchasing on Kindle/Amazon.
The book has been updated and the new electronic version of this helpful resource will make transcribing Tasmanian convict records a more efficient experience and reach to more audiences in need.
The link to purchase and download the e-book is http://amzn.to/2M61tX7.
Tasmania has the most thorough and complete set of records of transported convicts in the world, in the custodianship of the Tasmanian Archives. Now digitized and indexed, these records are a data source for intense academic research and family historians. This excellent guide by Susan Hood will assist anyone who has attempted to decipher and interpret Tasmanian convict records.
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- The Local Historian. Journal of the British Association of Local History 18-09-2020
- The baskets of Isabella Hutchinson. 29-10-2020
- Scottish Genealogy Research 18-09-2020
- Paupers and York Poor Law Union, 1837-42 08-10-2020
- Our Criminal Ancestors 18-09-2020
- Liverpool & South West Lancashire Family History Society 18-09-2020
- Family and Community Historical Research Society 23-09-2020
- Convict women who called Cascades Female Factory home lived 'cold and bleak' life 18-09-2020
- Clements Hall Local History Group 18-09-2020