Babette Smith on Australia’s Birthstain

The sources of the Archives Office information, photograph originals and copies were –

1. the materials donated from the Port Arthur kiosk (see extract above for details),
2. the collections of photographs taken by Nevin donated by the Allport Law firm as the Pretyman Collection,
3. the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, where many more prisoner cartes were located amongst the Beattie Collection’s convict memorabilia, and exhibited there in 1977. … More Babette Smith on Australia’s Birthstain

Nevins on sick list during voyage out on the Fairlie 1852

The Fairlie prepared for departure from the UK from the Isle of Wight on March 2, 1852, embarking convicts and juvenile exiles from the Parkhurst Prison. While conditions on board must have been rudimentary for women and children accompanying a crew member, for a mother and baby it must have been a floating hell. … More Nevins on sick list during voyage out on the Fairlie 1852

Laterality: the poses in Nevin’s portraits

The National Library of Australia holds a collection of carte-de-visite photographs of Tasmanian convicts, taken originally by professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin in the 1870s-1880s of men at trial in  the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol, and of men released with conditions at the Town Hall Municipal Police Office. Of the eighty-two (82) images … More Laterality: the poses in Nevin’s portraits

The PARKHURST prisoners & anthropometry

Tourists to Tasmania in the early 1900s were encouraged to disagree with this sort of thinking put forward in newspapers by Dr Goring. With the intense promotion of Tasmania’s penal heritage in the early 1900s, due largely to the release of the first of the two films based on Marcus Clarke’s 1874 novel, For The Term of His Natural Life (1908, 22 minutes), many Tasmanian prisoner identification photographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin on government contract to police and prison authorities in the 1870s were reprised by John Watt Beattie and Edward Searle for sale as tourist tokens in Beattie’s convictaria museum in the 1900s, called The Port Arthur Museum, although it was located in Hobart and not at Port Arthur. … More The PARKHURST prisoners & anthropometry

Melville Street from the Hobart Gaol 140 years ago

This stereograph, and others taken at the same time and place of the Prisoners Barracks (see below) are held at the State Library of Tasmania, and although unattributed, they were most likely taken by Thomas Nevin working with Alfred Bock between 1863-1866 at their studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart. The Nevin brothers’ association with the Hon. W. R. Giblin and the Hobart Gaol continued throughout the 1870s and 1880s while Nevin was contracted to the Municipal Police Office as prisons photographer, both as a commercial photographer on tender, and as a full-time civil servant. His principal studio, The City Photographic Establishment, was located one block away, close to the corner of Melville and Elizabeth Streets directly to the west. … More Melville Street from the Hobart Gaol 140 years ago

Prisoner portraits taken at trial and discharge 1870s

INTENDED PURPOSE

An examination of the criminal history of the individual prisoners whose photographs survive indicates that each photograph was selected, even salvaged by archivists because each man had been committed and sentenced at the Tasmanian Supreme Court for a lengthy term. If sentenced at the Supreme Court in Launceston, he was transferred to the Hobart Gaol where he was bathed, shaved, photographed and isolated for one month in silence after being received, along with those already sentenced in criminal sittings of the Hobart Supreme Court . … More Prisoner portraits taken at trial and discharge 1870s

Prisoner Charles BROWN aka Wm FORSTER: The Bulletin, May 16, 1978

The Bulletin journalist had no doubt about the name of the photographer, although s/he assumed T. J. Nevin was an amateur, not a professional, working with a “flashlight and pan” at Port Arthur. S/he assumed too that Nevin recorded the convict’s name as he was being photographed – “they gave Nevin the wrong names when asked ” – and that “those convicts whose photographs remain were all serving long terms”. The unstated inference is that Nevin then wrote the convict’s name on the verso of the prisoner’s cdv, but that is very unlikely in the first instance, since the prisoner’s original identification mugshot was pasted to his criminal record (gaol rap sheet). The numbering on all of these extant cdvs of Tasmanian prisoners photographed in the 1870s was the work of 20th century archivists, whether by John Watt Beattie in the early 1900s at his “Port Arthur Museum” in Hobart, or by curators of exhibitions at the QVMAG in the years 1930s, 1970s, and 1980s … More Prisoner Charles BROWN aka Wm FORSTER: The Bulletin, May 16, 1978

W. R. Giblin, Judge, Attorney-General and Premier

W. R. Giblin was Tasmanian Administrator for a month during 1886. He was also Attorney-General in August 1873, and Premier in 1878, and 1879 to 1884. Thomas Nevin’s commission to photograph prisoners at the Port Arthur and Hobart Gaols was underwritten by W. R. Giblin in August 1873 on gaining the portfolio of Attorney-General in the government changeover. … More W. R. Giblin, Judge, Attorney-General and Premier

Mugshots removed: Edward Searle’s album 1915

The National Library of Australia holds an album titled Tasmanian Views, catalogued in Searle’s name and dated ca. 1915. The album contains a series of contemporary snapshots taken of the Searle family while visiting the Tasman Peninsula, Maria Island, Norfolk Island, and New Norfolk, possibly accompanying Beattie on his various and highly productive photographic excursions. The family photographs are mixed in no particular order with scenic postcards bearing Beattie’s trademark, views and portraits of Antarctic expeditions, and reprints of 1860s-1870s photographs representing Tasmania’s troubled convict and Aboriginal past, all of which Beattie and Searle supplied in quantity for the 1900s tourist market, The inclusion of many family photographs in this album suggests it was intended for private viewing rather than public display, put together by Searle for his family as a memento of his four years’ employment at Beattie’s studio. … More Mugshots removed: Edward Searle’s album 1915

The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd

The Queen Victoria and Albert Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, seemed so intent on abrogating the name of Thomas J. Nevin as photographer from any association with its holdings of the “Port Arthur convicts” photographs which were exhibited there in 1977 as Nevin’s work that in a letter to a Nevin descendant dated 17th November 2005, the technical officer showed considerable confusion and made contradictory and incorrect statements. … More The QVMAG, the NLA, Chris Long and A.H. Boyd

Parkhurst Boys on board ‘The Fairlie’ 1852

On their arrival, 10 year old Thomas Nevin joined the small population of free settlers numbering 44,340 in the December 1852 Census. The convict population numbered 19,105 or 30% of the total census for that year. But by 1857, only five years later, with the cessation of transportation to Van Diemen’s Land in 1853, the convict population dwindled to just 3,008 or 3.7% of the island’s population. The numbers recorded for the Aboriginal population – estimates of 7000 in 1818 to 15 in 1857 – speak clearly of genocide. … More Parkhurst Boys on board ‘The Fairlie’ 1852

Convict Carte No. 1: George WHITE aka NUTT

The database image with verso at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery: note that the verso is inscribed with the conventional date of Nevin’s photographic registration (1874), the alias, and the ship on which Nutt was originally transported before 1853, but the transcription which appears on many other versos of convicts’ cartes – “Taken at Port Arthur” – is absent. Nevin may have photographed Nutt at Port Arthur between 23rd February and 8th May 1874; the former date being another sentence for Nutt for breaking the cell while trying to escape, the latter being one of the dates on which Nevin attended Port Arthur on police business. He was absent from Hobart when his father-in-law Captain James Day registered the birth of Thomas James Nevin jnr in May 1874. … More Convict Carte No. 1: George WHITE aka NUTT

Robert Hughes “The Fatal Shore” with mugshots by T. J. Nevin

One of those convict images – last on lower right – is of Thomas Harrison. It is the same image which was printed on the postcard to advertise the exhibition of the T. J. Nevin convict photos at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 1977, curated by John McPhee. Of the more than 100 photographs of Tasmanian prisoners which were exhibited from the QVMAG collection taken by Nevin, why the curator McPhee and the authors of Nevin’s biographical entry Stilwell and Kerr (1922) made the choice of the photograph of Harrison is strange, since it is not typical of the majority of his prisoner photographs which demonstrate the same technical approach used in his vignetted commercial studio portraits of clients, patrons and family members. Possibly Harrison was chosen because of his defiant stare and tattered clothes, signifiers of desperation and social deviance. … More Robert Hughes “The Fatal Shore” with mugshots by T. J. Nevin

Archives Office of Tasmania convict photographs by T. J. Nevin

The colonial Government of Tasmania had adopted the practice of taking identification photographs and establishing an Habitual Criminals Register or Rogue’s Gallery in 1872 from precedents set by the British Prevention of Crimes Act of 1871, and incoming legislation in NSW and Victoria in 1872. The extant photographs are “mugshots” taken of men who were arrested, arraigned, sentenced, reconvicted and/or discharged during the 1870s and early 1880s. For the most part these prisoners were recidivists, habitual criminals and repeat offenders. Thomas Nevin took the majority of these photographs at the Municipal Police Office (PO on their criminal record sheets) at the Hobart Town Hall, and at the Supreme Court and Hobart Town Gaol. The AOT records (above) were copied from the QVMAG collection in the 1970s, although some originals were acquired in the 1950s from the Radcliffe Museum at Port Arthur via the Department of National Parks which managed the site. … More Archives Office of Tasmania convict photographs by T. J. Nevin