NEWCASTLE’S criminal history will be on show as part of an exploration into the faces of the state’s offenders at the beginning of the 20th century.
THE University of Newcastle will play host to some of the state’s early lawbreakers as part of an exhibition unveiled on Monday.
Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930 explores the men, women and children who became ensnared in the justice system during that 60-year period.
Drawing on resources from the NSW State Archives, the exhibition features records and images sourced from 46,000 inmate records.
Exhibition curator Dr Penny Stannard said working with a team of research archivists from all different backgrounds ensured the most interesting stories were identified.
They include Sarah Clifford, a former convict and known pickpocket who committed some of her crimes in the Hunter.
She arrived in Hobart from Ireland in 1852. Twelve years later, authorities caught Clifford, her husband and children pickpocketing on the streets of Newcastle.
Clifford was released under a legal presumption at the time that a woman committing crimes in the presence of her husband was being coerced into the offences.
Her crimes continued until 1910, by which time she was convicted at the age of 76. Her sentences at that point added up to 36 years.
“Our expert staff have peeled back the layers of these historical records and illuminated the events that led these people to commit a crime,” Dr Stannard said.
“We looked at the offence type, gender, age and location of crimes to piece together a collection of compelling stories.”
University of Newcastle senior library technician Paige Wright said the exhibition tells extraordinary stories, some set in the Hunter.
“The University of Newcastle Library has supplemented the travelling exhibition with material from its Cultural Collections, including information from a rare criminal register from 1947,” Ms Wright said.
Captured: Portraits of Crime is open at the Auchmuty Library from 9am-5pm on weekdays until April 13.
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