Tag Archives: Bob Shoemaker

Exhibition: Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts

The exhibition Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts is based on research by historians at the University of Sheffield and partner universities that has traced the lives of British convicts from the 18th and 19th centuries. Produced by the Arts and Humanities Research Council Digital Panopticon project in partnership with the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), the exhibition combines original Victorian photographs, documents and prints from the city’s archives with convict life stories uncovered by the Digital Panopticon project. It also includes items such as a Victorian policeman’s truncheon, a reproduction Millbank Prison uniform and convicts’ photographs drawn from collections in Britain and Australia.

The exhibition sheds light on the lives of convicts from the Gordon Riots in 1780 to the early 20th century, including prostitute and pickpocket Charlotte Walker; Ikey Solomons, the notorious receiver of stolen goods; and serial thief Thomas Limpus, who was transported to Africa, America and Australia. Bob Shoemaker, Professor of History at the University of Sheffield, said: “This exhibition brings together a fascinating set of records from the LMA’s collections and other archives to show how the reformatory prison became the chief form of punishment in our judicial system. By using convict life stories to explain the origins of the modern prison, we hope that ‘Criminal Lives’ will help viewers see punishment in a new light.”

Criminal Lives, 1780-1925: Punishing Old Bailey Convicts opens in December 2017 at the London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) and will be on display until 16 May 2018. For visitor information, see here.

The Digital Panopticon project’s website, which enables users to trace the lives of British convicts imprisoned or transported to Australia, features on a new second year module for history students at the University of Sheffield.

Studentship: Crime, Innovation and Mobility: Transport Migration and Policing in England, 1750-1950

Applications are invited for the above ESRC Network project studentship commencing on 1 October 2016. This opportunity is part of the wider ESRC Network on ‘Comparative Historical Perspectives on Crime, Innovation and Social Change’ in collaboration with the University of York and the University of Leeds.

Application deadline: 5pm, Friday 29 April 2016
Interviews: interviews will take place week commencing 9 May 2016

For more information please click here

Bob Shoemaker and Tim Hitchcock (Sheffield and Sussex) ‘London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City, 1690-1800’ followed by the book launch

This paper will present the methodology, argument, and some case studies from the book of the same title, which will be launched following the seminar at Blackwell’s bookshop.  The talk will also demonstrate the innovative features of the book’s e-book edition.
The book charts the experiences of hundreds of thousands of Londoners who found themselves submerged in poverty or prosecuted for crime, and argues that through their responses plebeian Londoners influenced the pace and direction of social policy in the eighteenth century. The book illuminates the lives of prison escapees, expert manipulators of the poor relief system, celebrity highwaymen, lone mothers and vagrants, revealing how they each played the system to the best of their ability. In their acts of desperation, the authors argue that the poor and criminal exercised a profound and effective form of agency that changed the system itself, and shaped the evolution of the modern state.
About the speakers:
Tim Hitchcock is Professor of Digital History at the University of Susssex; Bob Shoemaker is Professor of Eighteenth-Century British History at Sheffield.  In addition to their individual publications, Tim and Bob co-directed Old Bailey Online and a series of successor projects in digital history.  In 2011 they were the winners of the History Today/Longman Trustees Award for their ‘major contribution to history’ for the ‘groundbreaking’ Old Bailey and London Lives projects ‘that point the way to the future of the discipline’.


Book Launch

Following the seminar, you are warmly invited to the launch of London Lives: Poverty, Crime and the Making of a Modern City in Blackwell’s bookshop (the former Jessop West Exhibition Space) at 6pm. There will be refreshments and nibbles, and we would love to see you there

All welcome!

PhD Studentship Available – ‘Crime and Policing in 18th and 19th-Century London’

This studentship is attached to the AHRC funded Digital Transformations project, ‘The Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925’, a collaborative project between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford, Sussex, and Tasmania.

The project seeks to use innovative digital methodologies to investigate the penal outcomes of those convicted at the Old Bailey, by comparing imprisonment in Britain with transportation from Britain to Australia. The project will assemble large and complex bodies of criminal justice, genealogical and biometric data and use sophisticated visualisation and data-linking methodologies to map and analyse convict lives at both the collective and individual level.

The award will cover the cost of UK/EU tuition fees and provides an annual maintenance grant at the standard RCUK rate (full-time rate £13,863 for 2014-15) for three years. The studentship will commence on 1 October 2015.

To apply for the studentship, applicants need to apply directly to the University of Sheffield for entrance into the doctoral programme in History.

The general eligibility requirements are:

• Students applying for a doctoral studentship should normally have, or be studying for, a Master’s degree, or equivalent qualification, in History or a related discipline.
• Applicants should also have a 2.1 in a BA degree, or equivalent qualification, in history or a related discipline.
• Awards are open to UK, EU and international applicants who are applying to study either full or part-time.

For more information please see:

Any academic enquiries should be directed to Professor Robert Shoemaker (r.shoemaker@sheffield.ac.uk).

Any questions about the application process should be directed to Beky Hasnip (r.hasnip@sheffield.ac.uk).

Extended deadline for our Digital Transformations PhD Project Studentships!

We are pleased to announce three new PhD studentships for 2014 entry attached to the AHRC funded Digital Transformations project, ‘The Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments, 1780-1925’ a collaborative project between the Universities of Liverpool, Sheffield, Oxford, Sussex, and Tasmania.

The project seeks to use innovative digital methodologies to investigate the penal outcomes of those convicted at the Old Bailey, by comparing imprisonment in Britain with transportation from Britain to Australia.

Deadline for applications: Monday 28 July 2014

Supervisor: Professor Bob Shoemaker

Find out more and apply here.

Studentship one: ‘The Social and Spatial Worlds of Old Bailey Convicts, 1785-1875’

This studentship will investigate the social and geographical origins and destinations of men and women convicted at the Old Bailey between 1785 and 1875, in order to shed light on patterns of mobility, the causes of crime, and understandings of identity in early industrial Britain.

Studentship two: ‘Criminal Recidivism in 18th and 19th-Century London’

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed the development of the concepts of habitual offending and the criminal class. Taking advantage of the extensive records of both petty and serious crime digitised and linked together by the Digital Panopticon project, this studentship will investigate these phenomena from the perspective of the judicial records, by tracing the incidence and character of repeat offending.

Studentship three: ‘The Impact of Digital Resources in the History of Crime’

This project will examine the impact of the widespread availability of digital resources on attitudes towards crime and its history. Core case studies will include the Old Bailey Proceedings Online, Founders and Survivors (records of the 73,000 men women and children who were transported to Tasmania), and the Digital Panopticon website.

Royal birth expected to boost public interest in unique historical resource

The birth of the Royal baby is expected to spark a surge of interest in Connected Histories, as users explore how royal births and their reception have changed throughout history.

Developed collaboratively with the University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute (HRI), Connected Histories brings together 22 digital resources related to early, modern and 19th century Britain.

The search engine allows researchers to collect and share important sources for British history in one place, showing up unexpected connections and surprising parallels, whether from 19thcentury newspapers, the records of courts and parliaments, or drawings. It also allows sophisticated searching of names, places and dates.

The project, funded by Jisc, an organisation which champions the use of digital technologies in education and research, is a partnership between the University of Sheffield, the University of Hertfordshire, the Institute of Historical Research and the University of London.

The University of Sheffield’s HRI developed and maintains the search engine which drives the Connected Histories website, comprising around 30 billion items of data which have been analysed using language algorithms to facilitate searching by keyword, person name, place and date.

A search for terms related to ‘royal births’ highlights a wealth of information drawn from historical sources across British history, revealing changes in medical practices, celebrations and cultural behaviours.

Highlights include:

Professor Bob Shoemaker, Director of Research at the University of Sheffield’s Department of History, said: “The significance of events like this lies in large part in the long historical tradition in which they are situated. By providing unprecedented access to an extraordinarily rich collection of documents, Connected Histories revolutionizes the possibilities for anyone interested in history to find out more about our fascinating past.”

See the full article on the University news feed.

Image: Proof of an illustration to G.Abbott a Beckett, ‘Comic History of Britain’, 1847