Doc­u­ment dis­sected: The Life Ar­chives

The Dig­i­tal Panopticon’s Life Ar­chives col­lect to­gether mul­ti­ple records – matched by hand and dig­i­tal pro­gram – re­lat­ing to the same in­di­vid­ual.

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The top left of the screen presents an over­view of the ‘uni­ver­sal’ de­tails of the in­di­vid­ual who’s ar­chive you are view­ing. This in­for­ma­tion draws to­gether fields that ap­pear in mul­ti­ple sources and don’t of­ten change, such as birth date, adult height and phys­i­cal de­scrip­tion, and birth place.


Pun­ish­ments ap­pear in much the same way as tri­als in the life ar­chives – a point on the time­line with a brief de­scrip­tion and date. How­ever, some of the pun­ish­ment records in­cluded in ar­chives like the ‘Founders and Sur­vivors’ col­lec­tions, or the pa­role li­cences, are ac­tu­ally made up of many doc­u­ments. In­for­ma­tion from these ap­pear in a less prom­i­nent list be­low the pun­ish­ment en­try.


The ar­chive sum­mary in the top right of the screen tells you the to­tal num­ber of records in the ar­chive, lists the in­di­vid­ual record sets com­piled in the ar­chive, and the num­ber of each kind of doc­u­ment, giv­ing you an over­view of your ar­chive at a glance.


Crim­i­nal tri­als are a cen­tral com­po­nent of the Lon­don con­vict ar­chives. Tri­als from the Old Bai­ley, and those at other courts in the cap­i­tal, ap­pear in the time­line. Only a brief over­view is given of tri­als in the time­line, but by click­ing ‘more de­tails’ to the right of each record, you can view a full tran­scrip­tion of the record en­try.


At the far right of each ar­chive en­try, the ‘more de­tails’ tab will take you out of the time­line view, and present a sep­a­rate box for each tran­scribed record in the ar­chive – along with full tran­scrip­tion and record ref­er­ences – in chrono­log­i­cal or­der. This ‘global’ tran­scrip­tion shows all the in­for­ma­tion avail­able from the ar­chive.

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