History - Victorian jail project
Records holding details of over 4,000 prisoners who served sentences at Inveraray Jail in Argyll between 1820 and 1890 have become available in a child-friendly digital format for use in primary education.
Ictopus, a free web-based information and communications technology support service for primary education, has prepared a new teaching resource which uses the jail records to educate pupils on the social history of the Victorian period.
The records hold information on prisoners, including their name, occupation, crime committed, sentence and transportation details.
An electronic copy of the records already existed, but ictopus spent around six weeks re-working the database to make it child-friendly. This included censoring some of the original terms used and devising a glossary for children to interpret the 19th-century legal terminology.
Suggested project activities include searching through the database to find stories, patterns, trends and changes that took place across Victorian society. Pupils could also be challenged to write a news article based on a real-life court case, to re-enact court scenes or to search through transportation records, which pupils can link to those found in Queensland, Australia.