Building a life course dataset from Australian convict records: Founders and Survivors: Australian life courses in historical content, 1803-1920

Janet Susan McCalman, Leonard Smith, Sandra Silcot, Rebecca Kippen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Founders & Survivors is a multi-university and public collaborative project that is building a transnational and intergenerational dataset of life courses generated from the UNESCO recognised convict records of Tasmania. This chapter outlines the technical history of the project: mass digitization and archiving online of over 100,000 images, manual scholarly transcription and the building of a prosopography database. This comprises a relational genealogy database integrated with an XML (BaseX) source database. Individual life histories are compiled dynamically from diverse sources, linked by a combination of machine matching and human judgment, and managed by an independent link management module. Using Google Docs over 50 online volunteers crowdsourced the convict genealogies and coded the data. Manual linkage and scholarly verification remained essential for the collation of prosopographical data and manual coding was necessary for statistical analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopulation Reconstruction
EditorsGerrit Bloothooft, Kees Mandemakers, Peter Christen, Marijn Schraagen
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783319198842
ISBN (Print)9783319198835
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • death certificate
  • record type
  • vital registration
  • conduct record
  • link management

Cite this