Just how brutal was convict transportation?

October 8, 2009

The Port Arthur Historic Site is hosting the latest in its public talks series this week with a focus on the impact of transportation on convict death rates.

Transportation has been variously described as a relatively benign experience and as a grim and punishing ordeal.

Associate Professor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart will examine evidence from death rates to offer a clearer picture of the lives of convicts.

In this paper new data will explore the impact of transportation on death rates. The aim will be to place the experience of Australian convicts in an international context as well as to try and explain some of the factors that influenced mortality amongst prisoners.

Hamish Maxwell-Stewart is an Associate Professor in the School of History and Classics at the University of Tasmania. While his work has concentrated on convict transportation he has a broader interest in the history of health and in heritage issues.

He is author of Closing Hell’s Gates: The Death of a Convict Station (2008), American Citizens British Slaves (with Cassandra Pybus 2002) and Pack of Thieves? 52 Port Arthur Lives (with Susan Hood, 2001). He also contributed to and edited in conjunction with Lucy Frost, Chain Letters: Narrating Convict Lives (2001)

ALL WELCOME – Free admission

Wednesday 14 October at 5.30 pm

Port Arthur Talks are held in the Junior Medical Officer’s Conference Room at the Port Arthur Historic Site.