On 20 July, the Australian Dictionary of Biography organised the 'Convict Lives: Biography in a Digital Age' Symposium aiming to bring together scholars studying convict Australia to explore the scope of work being undertaken around the country particularly as the digitisation of convict records makes them more accessible. The event highlighted the importance of the subject and it was a starting point to develop strategies to encourage collegial approaches to the study of convict Australia.
The event was honoured by the presence of Professor Janet McCalman (University of Melbourne), Professors Hamish Maxwell-Stewart and Associate Professor David Andrew Roberts (UNE), as well as Associate Professor Kristyn Harman (University of Tasmania). All of the speakers have undertaken groundbreaking work in utilising and organising the vast trove of digital data on convict Australia, proving the high level of interest, both in the academy and the community, on this matter.
One of the highlights of the event was the launch of the Australian Journal of Biography and History No. 7 (Convict Lives), edited by Matthew Cunneen and Malcolm Allbrook.
Digitisation of convict records presents new opportunities to present and disseminate the material in a manner that will enhance the field of historical study. Events like this consolidate and promote the role of the Australian National University as a leading player in the study of convict Australia.
Understanding Convict Lives with Professor Janet McCalman
Biography and Life Stories in Convict History with Associate Professor David Andrew Roberts
Digital Technology and Convict History with Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart
Convict Lives Special Issue Launch with Professor Melanie Nolan
Concluding Remarks with Professor Janet McCalman