New exhibition shines light on criminals from 1870 to 1930

Captured: Portraits of Crime highlights the untold stories of individuals in the historic NSW justice system

A new exhibition developed by NSW State Archives that explores the criminal pasts of NSW lawbreakers from 1870 to 1930 opened today at the Panizzi Gallery, University of Wollongong.

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930 shines a light on the ordinary men, women and children from this era who found themselves caught in the NSW criminal justice system either by choice, or circumstance.

Acting Executive Director of NSW State Archives Theresa Fairman said the exhibition features a wide selection of records and images sourced from 46,000 inmate records contained in 199 gaol photographic description books.

“These records have all been digitised to ensure we can preserve history and protect this information for future generations,” said Ms Fairman.

Exhibition curator Dr Penny Stannard said working with a team of research archivists from all different backgrounds ensured the most interesting stories were identified.

“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 Wollongong Director Library Services, Margie Jantti, said the exhibition tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary people.

“The Captured exhibition highlights the untold stories of individuals in the historic NSW justice system,” Ms Jantti said.

Among those stories featured in the exhibition is that of William Plummer, a former convict who served a number of gaol sentences at Wagga Wagga in the 1870s.

Plummer arrived in NSW from England in 1835 and was initially assigned to James Macarthur, son of the entrepreneur and pastoralist, John Macarthur. Plummer committed his first crimes soon after his arrival and continued to commit crimes over a 50 year period.

For many of these, it would appear he simply stole to survive such as the crime he committed in 1875 when he stole a swag from a lady by the name of Henrietta Johnson and for which he was sentenced to three months gaol.

Visit Captured: Portraits of Crime at the Panizzi Gallery, University of Wollongong Library. Open daily during UOW Library opening hours until 3 August 2018.

For more information visit www.records.nsw, or view the exhibition catalogue here 

Posted in Arts and Culture
Tagged: Crime, History