This is quite an exciting project that will be of interest to historians everywhere whether they are family historians local historians, crime historians, social historians or indeed anyone interested in history.
The project was launched in October and a lot of work has been done behind the scenes already. It is based at Griffith University in Queensland and is funded by the university and an Australian Research Council grant.
The group of academics and the recruited citizen historians will be indexing the court trials in each Australian jurisdiction (source Supreme Court and State Archives) and also then linking to Trove and the newspaper reports providing a free online database of trials for research by anyone.
You can do a keyword search now and below is the information returned on a search for Evans and another for Smith. The ability to do the keyword search will allow you to look for types of crime, places where crime occurred and more.
The information below is from the media release from Griffith:
Uncover the details of Australia’s criminal past
On 13 October 1941, Patrick Drew, a 49-year-old Brisbane painter, plead guilty to
fifty-one charges of theft and breaking and entering, which he had committed over a
period of thirteen years. Drew, who was liable for 600 years’ imprisonment, was
described as Queensland’s ‘most successful burglar’ by Justice Philp. However, out of
consideration for Drew’s war service, the judge sentenced him to only two years’
The story of Queensland’s best burglar is one of many that has been uncovered by a
team of researchers at Griffith University engaged in exploring the history of the
criminal trial in Australia, with support from the Australian Research Council. One of
the outcomes of The Prosecution Project, which is directed by ARC Laureate Fellow
Mark Finnane, will be the digitisation of registers of Supreme Court cases from across
Australia from the early nineteenth to the mid twentieth century. Details of over 25,
000 trials have already been entered into this database.
Some of these records are already available for searching by family and local
historians on The Prosecution Project’s website. To complete the digitisation of the
registers, volunteers are being sought to enter details of cases and link them with
newspaper reports on Trove. This will enable researchers to analyse long-term
patterns of crime, prosecution and punishment – and provide an invaluable index to
these records for public access.
Those who sign up to help in the transcription process will receive records
electronically, so volunteers will able to assist this worthy cause from home, their
local library or anywhere else with computer access. Volunteers are also able to
specify the jurisdiction or period they are interested in working on when signing up to
participate in the project.