Our Criminal Ancestors is a public engagement project that encourages and supports people and communities to explore the criminal past of their own families, communities, towns and regions.

We interpret ‘criminal’ broadly to mean people that have historically encountered the criminal justice system. This might include the accused, victims, witnesses, prisoners, police, prison officers, solicitors and magistrates among others who worked in the criminal justice system.

Our criminal ancestors were often ordinary people, most were minor offenders whose contact with the criminal justice system was a brief moment in their lives – only a small minority were what we might term today ‘serious offenders’.  This project hopes to share a greater understanding of the sometimes difficult situations and context for understanding how or why individuals, and sometimes groups of people, encountering the criminal justice system.

Please join in with your stories (go to HistoryPin) – we are looking for stories and events from between roughly 1700 and 1939 (lots of records are subject to closure of between 75-100 years).  Tell us (and each other) about crime history in your local area or your family history – we are interested in stories ‘big’ and ‘small’ – perhaps your ancestors was a police officer, prison warder or a witness to a crime, they may have been an offender or a victim – using crime history records can reveal some fascinating stories but also important contextual information about our social history.

This website aims to provide a useful starting point for anyone looking to explore their criminal ancestry, providing handy tips, advice and insights on the history of crime, policing and punishment as well as case studies, blogs to help in your own research.

We hope you enjoy the resources on this website and welcome constructive feedback and suggestions. If you have a story from your own research that you’d like to share, please do get in touch. You can email us at ourcriminalpast@gmail.com.

Professor Helen Johnston, University of Hull
Professor Heather Shore, Leeds Beckett University

(Please note, we are not a genealogical research service and therefore we are unable to undertake research on your behalf.)

Latest Updates on Twitter

This Thursday one of our object handling sessions will take place at the Maritime Museum!

The session will be running from 12.30 to 2.30pm and is entirely free.

Come along and get stuck in!

#HullYMC

**CALL FOR PAPERS**

We are looking for any postgrad students who would be interested in sharing their research at one of our monthly seminars.

Present your work in a supportive and encouraging environment! Please RT & share widely for anyone interested.

"Growing pains? Penal reform and the challenge of prison building programmes"

A post by @tcguiney for our Policy Insights blog, which provides space for contributors to the Howard Journal of Crime and Justice to write about their research.

https://t.co/on8JPxmEXN

My oppo, and currently boss, Prof Paul Lawrence, is giving his inaugural lecture, on the uses of criminal justice history. It's interesting.

Considering lessons of the long-term history of the 1824 Vagrancy Act, Paul concludes that studying it allows us to draw some general conclusions.

Superb display of materials from our Centre for the History of Crime, Policing & Justice to mark our colleague, Prof Paul Lawrence's inaugural lecture tonight. Books, 1930s photo-fit board game, & some Prison History! @OU_FASS @OpenUniversity #OUResearch

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tragedy in 1906 at Bishop's Road Station on the #Metropolitan line (now known as #Paddington Tube Station). Found in @BNArchive online @BTPPaddington @LondonUNDERGRND @TfL #railway @RailwayHeritage

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@nelldarby I can! It will be in Leeds @CCJSLeeds CFP is in redraft, to be issued through networks shortly. Hope to see you there! Just give me or @yeomans_henry a shout with any questions in the meantime #BCHS20

Hey, fellow crime historians: any news on when/where the next British Crime Historians Symposium might be held yet? #preplanning #bchs20 #possiblythinkingaboutthisprematurely