Founders & Survivors - Digitising Tasmania’s Past

The Founders and Survivors Project brings together research datasets created from various records relating to the 73,000 convicts transported to Tasmania in the 19th century and their descendants. The data is sourced from records of convicts held at the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office, various scholarly datasets, and data contributed from genealogists and members of the public with convict ancestors. 

These records include conduct registers, which were kept by the colonial administration to record the behaviour of convicts while they underwent their sentence in the colony. The information recorded falls into two parts: that relating to the convict's history before arrival, and the details of their careers in the colony. For each convict their name, ship, and police number and multiple conduct events are transcribed. Each conduct event consists of: a sequence number; date; description; sentence; and the magistrate's initials. Details of all conduct events were transcribed for one in 25 convicts.

Also included in the records are partial transcriptions of the physical description lists, which provide height, eye colour, hair colour and distinguishing body markings. Muster entries for the years 1930, 1832, 1833 and 1835 are included. If the convict died whilst in the convict system it is likely the details of that death will be found in the database because a wide variety of sources were used to transcribe convict deaths.

The project draws on over 1.5 million digital records covering populations who either migrated to the British colony of Van Diemen’s Land (renamed Tasmania in 1856) or were born there in the years 1803-1900.

Many of these are linked to digital images of the original. The record groups covered by the project include a number of series relating to transported convicts that have been provided to Digital Panopticon. These have also been linked through to the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office. Tasmanian Name Index.

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