Search This Site


Login Form

The Female Convicts Research Centre Inc. holds or participates in events. These have included:
  • Women Transported Exhibition (2009)
  • Seniors Week (2008)
  • Harmony Re-enactment (2006)
  • International Women's Day (2006)
  • Female Factory Muster (2004)

To find out about upcoming (or past) events visit our events calendar.

The group also holds regular seminars—these have replaced our monthly meetings—and transcribers' workshops.


We hold seminars for members and any one who is interested in attending twice a year—in autumn and spring. The seminars usually run for a half day or whole day and vary in location.

Members and guest speakers present papers related to the topic of the seminar.

Tours of convict sites are sometimes included as part of the seminars.

A brief list of the seminar topics is provided here. For more information on the seminar program.

  • Autumn 2010: Female Factories: Who worked there and why?
  • Spring 2010: Populating the Ross Female Factory
  • Autumn 2011The Orphan Schools of Van Diemen's Land (held in conjunction with Friends of the Orphan Schools)
  • Spring 2011Journeys: A Seminar
  • Autumn 2012The Working Lives of Convict Women (held in conjunction with Runnymede as part of Tasmanian Heritage month)
  • Spring 2012Women in a Man's World
  • Autumn 2013Resilience?
  • Spring 2013From the Edges of the Empire: female convicts born or tried outside the British Isles
  • Autumn 2014Voyages of Female Convict Ships

Seminar Programs

Voyages of Female Convict Ships

             SORRY, BOOKED OUT

Saturday 10 May 2014
Old Sunday School, St John's Park Precinct

9:10 Registration

9:30–11:00 Session 1

  • Trudy Cowley: Introducing the voyages
  • Hamish Maxwell-Stewart: Female convict voyages: an overview
  • Dianne Snowden: Developing skills on the voyage
  • Debora Norris: Chidren on the voyages

11:00 Morning Tea

11:30–1:00 Session 2

  • Colleen Arulappu: Five surgeons and their influence (30 minutes)
  • Stephan Lucas: Medical conditions experienced by female convicts
  • Marueen Bransden: Diet on board female convict ships

1:00 Lunch

1:30 Peter MacFie and Hamish Pike provide music of the period

2:15–3:30 Session 3: Individual Voyages

  • Raelene Mibus: Gilbert Henderson 1840
  • Brian Rieusset: Mexborough 1841
  • Jo Brodie: East London 1843
  • Mary Landers: Earl Grey 1849

3:40 FCRC General Meeting


From the Edges of the Empire: female convicts born or tried outside the British Isles

Saturday 9 November 2013
Penitentiary Chapel, corner Brisbane and Campbell Streets, Hobart

Feature article, Untold story of our deep convict past, in The Mercury (9 November 2013) about the seminar.

10:00–11:00 Session 1

  • Cheryl Griffin: Life on the edge: How six black women from the British Caribbean found themselves in New South Wales
  • Jan Richardson: Stories from the Caribbean: The transportation of female convicts born in the West Indies to New South Wales in the 1830s
  • Darryl Massie: Maria—from runaway slave to convict

11:15–12:15 Session 2

  • Maureen Mann: The Canadian Connection
  • Alison Alexander: French women in the Antipodes
  • Douglas Wilkie: Eugenie Caroline Lemaire: Woman of fashion and influence; or con-woman?

12:15–1:00 Tour of the Penitentiary Chapel

1:30–2:30 Session 3: 3 papers

  • Eilin Hordvik: Policing in the Indian Ocean: Four women convicted to transportation on the Island of Mauritius
  • Cassandra Pybus: From Mauritius to New South Wales: the childhood exile of Elizabeth and Constance
  • Lucy Frost: Writing biographies for the website: the story of Mary Jane

2:30–3:00 General discussion

3:00–3:30 Business meeting of the Female Convicts Research Centre Inc.



Saturday 11 May 2013
Old Sunday School, St John's Park Precinct

Report on the day by Alison Alexander. Photos of the day by Dan Taylor.

10:00–11:30 First session: Traditional female methods of coping

11:45–12:45 Second session: Escape through the mind


  • Tour of the Orphan School buildings with Joyce Purtscher

2:00–3:30 Third session: Desperate action


  • Meeting of the Female Convicts Research Centre

Women in a Man's World

Saturday 10 November 2012
Junior Medical Officers' Quarters, Port Arthur Historic Site

10.30–11.30 First session: Women in a man's world

11.40–12.40 Second session: Female convicts, their records and their masters


  • A Walking Tour with James Parker: Women and Children at Port Arthur

2.10–3.10 Third session: Lives of female convicts


  • Business meeting of the Female Convicts Research Centre Inc.

The Working Lives of Convict Women

Saturday 12 May 2012
'Runnymede', Bay Road, New Town, TAS

10 am to 2:30 pm

What did convict women actually do when they were assigned as domestic servants? Papers discussed many aspects of this fascinating topic.

10:00–10:50 Session 1, chaired by Alison Alexander

  • Meredith Hodgson: Maids of all work (paper available This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )
  • James Parker: To The Tubs: The laundry as female punishment
  • Gemma Webberly: 'I rise at dawn': Daily chores of a servant girl in a colonial homestead

10:50–11:30 Tour of the convicts' working areas at 'Runnymede', conducted by Gemma Webberly

11:40–12:15 Session 2, chaired by Dianne Snowden

12:15–1:00 Lunch, provided

1:00–2:00 Session 3, chaired by Lucy Frost

2:00–2:30 Business meeting of the Female Convicts Research Centre


Journeys: A Seminar

Saturday 5 November 2011
Old Sunday School, Orphan School and St John's Precinct, New Town, TAS
10 am to 3 pm

A sentence of transportation became a sentence to travel as convict women journeyed from their places of trial across the world to Van Diemen's Land. Many had made significant journeys before their arrestts. After they arrived in Hobart Town, many travelled about the colony while they were under sentence. Once they were free to move where they liked, the emancipated women often set off yet again for somewhere new.

The seminar explored these journeys.

10:00–11:15 Session 1—The Voyage Out
11:30–12:45 Session 2—People on the Voyage Out
  • Colette McAlpine: The Voyages of Women Convicted Across the Empire - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Lucy Frost: Caring for the Children at Sea
  • Meredith Hodgson: Steerage or Stay Behind

12:35–1:15 BYO lunch

1:15–2:30 Session 3—Journeys Through Life

2:30–3:00 Business meeting for Female Convicts Research Centre


The Orphan Schools of Van Diemen's Land

Saturday 9 April 2011
Old Sunday School, St John's Precinct, New Town, TAS

9:30 am to 3:30 pm


9:30-11:15 Session 1—Chair: Nicola Goc
  • Andrew Cocker:  A Very Bad Child: the Story of Sarah Briggs
  • Lyn McLeavy:  Ann Young and the aftermath of the Irish Famine
  • Lucy Frost:  John Offer’s flawed crusade for the Boys School, 1838-1839
  • James Parker:  "Captain Booth's Piccaninnies"
  • Grant Finlay:  Aboriginal Children at the Orphan Schools
11:30 to 1:00 Session 2—Chair: Dianne Snowden
  • Toni Sherwood:  Childhood outside the Orphan Schools in mid-nineteenth-century Van Diemen’s Land
  • Rosie Davidson:  "Faith, Funerals and Children at the Orphan Schools"
  • Andrea Gerrard:  "The Convict Stain: the story of three generations of the Quamby/Taylor Family"
  • Joyce Purtscher:  “The Orphan School Stigma”

1:00-1:30 BYO lunch - tea and coffee will be available

1:30-2:15 Tour of the Orphan School site (Joyce Purtscher)

2:15-3.00 Session 3: Getting the message out: a workshop on our websites and their potential uses
  • Trudy Cowley (Female Convicts Research Group (Tasmania))
  • Dianne Snowden (Friends of the Orphan Schools)
  • David Boon (Education Department)

3:00-3:30 Business meeting for Female Convicts Research Centre



Our database manager, Colette McAlpine, runs transcribers' workshops on an as needs basis. If you wish to volunteer as a transcriber, please check our events calendar for upcoming transcribers' workshops. Click here for more information about what volunteering as a transcriber involves.