Search This Site


Member Login

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.

  • Spring 2015: tba, to be held 7 November 2015
  • Autumn 2015Succeeding in the regular economy: the aftermath of convict sentences
  • Spring 2014Crime and Crime Families: relocation and reconnection
  • Autumn 2014Voyages of Female Convict Ships
  • Spring 2013From the Edges of the Empire: female convicts born or tried outside the British Isles
  • Autumn 2013Resilience?
  • Spring 2012Women in a Man's World
  • Autumn 2012The Working Lives of Convict Women (held in conjunction with Runnymede as part of Tasmanian Heritage month)
  • Spring 2011Journeys: A Seminar
  • Autumn 2011The Orphan Schools of Van Diemen's Land (held in conjunction with Friends of the Orphan Schools)
  • Spring 2010: Populating the Ross Female Factory
  • Autumn 2010: Female Factories: Who worked there and why?

Seminar Programs

Succeeding in the regular economy: the aftermath of convict sentences

Saturday 9 May 2015
Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (Bass and Flinders Room), Marieville Esplanade, Sandy Bay



Most women transported to Van Diemen’s Land came from impoverished circumstances, and their petty thefts can often be understood as crimes of poverty.  For some of these women, transportation meant in the long run an opportunity to achieve economic security and physical comfort, if not actual wealth.  The May seminar will explore what it meant for a convict woman to enter successfully into the regular economy after she became free or received a conditional pardon.

In selecting papers for the seminar, we will give priority to those considering a general issue, such as:

  • Making the best of employment opportunities (female convict emancipists in the liquor industry, running brothels, in agriculture, in trade etc)
  • Acquiring property (might take a street or an area in a town or city to look at the housing where female convict emancipists lived)
  • Joint enterprises with husbands in long-term successful partnerships (eg on farms)
  • What did female convict emancipists do with their money?
  • Looking at a particular ship, or women from a particular location, who succeeded? Can you speculate on why?

To answer such questions might involve research focussed on a particular source (rate books, pub licenses for a specified year or period, wills, bank records, etc)

In addition to papers on these more general topics, there will be a session of papers focussed on particular women—but the papers must be written to set the specific story in a larger context (in effect, treating family history as social history).


Crime and Crime Families: relocation and reconnection

Saturday 15 November 2014

Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania (Bass and Flinders Floor), Marieville Esplanade, Sandy Bay

9:30 Registration

9:55 Welcome

10:00 Session 1: Female Convicts and their Crimes

11:15 Morning Tea

11:30 Session 2: Crime families by their descendants

12:30 Lunch

1:00 'The Case Against Mary Calland'

  • A play be Helen and Mike Edwards

1:30 Session 3: Families in crime

3:00 Close

3:10 Female Convicts Research Centre meeting (all welcome)


Cost (includes morning tea and lunch): $25 per head, to be paid on the day

Parking: in the grounds of the Royal Yacht Club (but no the Members Only area to the right) or along Marieville Esplanade

Lunch: gluten-free options will be provided

Access: the seminar is on the first floor with access via stairs

Registration: places are limited, REGISTER HERE

Enquiries: contact us


Voyages of Female Convict Ships

Saturday 10 May 2014

Old Sunday School, St John's Park Precinct

Session 1

Session 2

Musical Interlude

  • Peter MacFie and Hamish Pike provide music of the period

Session 3: Individual Voyages


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.

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

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?

Tour of the Penitentiary Chapel

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

General discussion



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.

First session: Traditional female methods of coping

Second session: Escape through the mind


  • Tour of the Orphan School buildings with Joyce Purtscher

Third session: Desperate action


Women in a Man's World

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

First session: Women in a man's world

Second session: Female convicts, their records and their masters


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

Third session: Lives of female convicts


The Working Lives of Convict Women

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

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

Session 1

  • 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


  • Tour of the convicts' working areas at 'Runnymede', conducted by Gemma Webberly

Session 2

Session 3


Journeys: A Seminar

Saturday 5 November 2011
Old Sunday School, Orphan School and St John's Precinct, New Town, TAS
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.

Session 1—The Voyage Out
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

Session 3—Journeys Through Life


The Orphan Schools of Van Diemen's Land

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


Session 1
  • 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
Session 2
  • 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”


  • Tour of the Orphan School site (Joyce Purtscher)
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)



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.