Paper Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Digital Techniques for Mapping Networks in Colonial Hobart (120)

Hamish Maxwell-Stewart

Over the last decade the Founders and Survivors project has assembled a series of relational databases designed to explore the impact of convict transportation to Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) on life course and intergenerational outcomes. To date the project team has digitally captured, transcribed, cleaned, linked and coded somewhere in the region of 1.5 million records. These datasets contain variables as diverse as tattoo and scar descriptions, causes of death, information about bank accounts, absconding notices, marriage certificates and records of property ownership. As well as charting life course outcomes, however, the same data could be used to analyse relationships between convicts, former convicts, free migrants and the colonially born. Since the available data includes annual valuation rolls, it is also possible to explore the impact that the environment into which a child was born had on subsequent life expectancy, prosecution risk, marriage and family formation. The catch is that relational databases are not particularly good tools for analysing complex social, economic and environmental interactions. This paper will outline why this is the case and will explore the possibility of using different forms of technology to map relationships between the residents of a street in Hobart and environmental change at the local level.