Digital Panopticon

This project brings together genealogical, biometric and criminal justice datasets held in the UK and Australia in order to explore the impact of the different types of penal punishments on the lives of 90,000 people sentenced at The Old Bailey between 1780 and 1925.

This project uses data mapping and life-course analysis to investigate a central issue of penology and social policy: the relative impacts of different types of punishment on criminal desistance, health outcomes, employment opportunities, and family life over the long term.The resulting online resource can be accessed here: http://www.digitalpanopticon.orgdigitalpanopticon

Using sophisticated data-linking methodologies and data visualisation techniques developed by the DHI,  this project joins together existing and widely used large datasets (Old Bailey Online, London Lives, and Founders and Survivors) with newly digitised data to make it possible to chart the fortunes of all Londoners convicted at the Old Bailey between the departure of the First Fleet to Australia (1787) through to the death of the last transported Londoner in Australia in the early 1920s.

Prisoners kept in London’s burgeoning prison estate can be identified and followed in newly available digitized prison records, as well as civil datasets. Convicts sentenced to transportation can be traced through the richly detailed convict records in Australia, as well as in London prison registers and birth, marriage and death records. The project traces the criminal London poor through a plethora of digital records, recreating a pan-global prism capable of mapping and analyzing their lives at both the collective and individual level.

Duration: 1st October 2013 – 30th September 2017


Project Team

  • Prof. Barry Godfrey (Principal Investigator – University of Liverpool)
  • Prof. Robert Shoemaker (Co-Investigator – University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Deborah Oxley (Co-Investigator – University of Oxford)
  • Prof. Tim Hitchcock (Co-Investigator – University of Sussex)
  • Prof. Hamish Maxwell-Stewart (Co-Investigator – University of Tasmania)
  • Dr Sharon Howard (Project Manager – The Digital Humanities Institute)
  • Dr Richard Ward (Research Associate – University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Zoe Alker (Research Associate – University of Liverpool)
  • Dr Lucy Williams (Research Associate – University of Liverpool)
  • Jamie McLaughlin (Developer – The Digital Humanities Institute)
  • Michael Pidd (The Digital Humanities Institute)

Image Credits: Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums