Getting Started

Researching your prison ancestors: an introductory guide

Have you found a prisoner in your family history or are interested in learning more about past punishments in your local community? Our new introductory guide can help you to source relevant records and trace those incarcerated in prisons between 1800 and 1914.

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Port Arthur penitentiary, Tasmania

Source guide for tracing your transported convict ancestor(s)

Find out how to trace your transported criminal ancestors with our detailed source guide.

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old photo of a police force

Tracing your police ancestors

Find out more about the sources available for tracing your police ancestors.

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Royal Courts of Justice in London

Where to find criminal justice system records

The main historic records of the criminal justice system can be found in the National Archives and local record offices. Learn more about these records.

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The convict licensing system

Following the implementation of the 1853 Penal Servitude Act, a new licensing system for convicts was introduced in Britain, where well-behaved prisoners could be released early. Many of our criminal ancestors would have been part of this new system.

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Court gavel

Assizes

The Assizes was a regional court circuit held twice-yearly, often dealing with more serious offences such as murder, rape and highway robbery.

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cover of the Hull and East Riding source guide

Source Guide for Hull and East Riding

Download our Hull and East Riding source guide to researching your criminal past.

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inside a reformatory school

Industrial and Reformatory School Registers

Industrial and Reformatory Schools registers contain a great deal of information about the criminal and destitute children who were sent to these institutions from the mid-nineteenth century until 1933.

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Hull Quarter Sessions gates

Quarter Sessions

Find out more about the Quarter sessions, which were local courts usually held four times a year in the seat of the county or county borough.

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Holloway prison

HMP Holloway: History and Sources

A history of Holloway prison, which was originally built as the New City of London Prison in 1852 and later re-designated to became the first female-only local prison in England.

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Latest Updates on Twitter

@BritSocCrim The next Yorkshire & Humberside regional group meeting is at Sheffield Hallam on Weds 8 March 2023: theme is Social Justice Research: Making Change Happen? contact me for more information or to submit abstract!

Join Dr Maya Avis (Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany) for: "Geopolitics of Aerial Surveillance in Palestine/Israel"
The first free seminar, as part of the @CrimSocHull Criminology, Sociology & Policing, Rising Star Guest Speaker Series, 2023.
πŸ“… 8th February 23

Bentham wrote to William Pitt (1759–1806) #onthisday in 1791, sending in two parts his 'Outline of the Plan of Construction of a Panopticon Penitentiary House'β€”detailing first the panopticon's basic principles, and second some of his own obligations as its potential governor:

Applications for the 2023 - 25 Past & Present #ECR Scholarships in #SocialHistory tenable @ihr_history have now opened.

Deadline this year is 28th Feb 2023.

Full details on how to apply are here:

https://www.history.ac.uk/join-ihr/fellowships/junior-fellowships/past-present

Please spread the word @IHR_Fellowships #Twitterstorians

Applications are open for The New Curators Project 2023!

For more information visit https://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/collections/special-collections/schools-and-outreach/new-curators-project

Amazing new @HistoryWOΒ website launches today!

This digital magazine is a platform for everyone - to write, read, listen to and discuss radical history and its place in the world today.

Take a look >
https://www.historyworkshop.org.uk/