Friday, 23 June 2017

Our Criminal Ancestors

New Project to Shed Light on Hull’s Historic Criminal Culture

Skeleton in your closet? Black sheep in the family? Sinister secret hiding in your family tree?

An exciting new project in Hull will help local people find the answers and explore the criminal past of their own families, through a series of free workshops at the Hull History Centre. 

The project, led by Dr Helen Johnston (University of Hull) and Dr Heather Shore (Leeds Beckett University), will for the first time bring world-renowned experts to Hull to help the public gain greater understanding not only of their own family history, but also the history of the communities, the city and the East Yorkshire region in which they live and work.

“Our criminal ancestors were often just ordinary people, and it’s their stories from the past that can change who we think we are in the present”, said Dr Johnston. “Not only that, they can change the way we think about the history of our streets, our city and our region.

“Children often fell into crime as a dire consequence of being born into poverty, such as twelve-year-old John Hines, of Cleveland Street, who in 1891 stole a 4lb bag of almonds to feed himself and his widowed mother, receiving a five year reformatory sentence.

“For those who believe their ancestors may have encountered the criminal justice system, whether they’re the accused, victims, witnesses, prisoners, police and prison officers, these workshops will help them to  use historical crime, policing and punishment records in searching for their relatives.”


Dr Heather Shore is eager to see what the people of Hull can uncover.
“We’re really looking forward to helping people dig into the past to find their black sheep ancestors,” she said. “Hull and East Yorkshire has a rich history when it comes to criminal justice, and people’s untold family stories can help us throw light into the shadowy corners of Hull’s criminal past.”

The three public workshops will run at the Hull History Centre during 2017 on:
Saturday 15th July - Introduction to Crime and Criminal Records
Saturday 23rd September - Prosecution and Policing
Saturday 21st October - Punishment

The project has been funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which means that all workshops are free to the public, who can attend any or all workshops.  The aim is to develop a website and a set of resources that will help others, both nationally and internationally, discover their criminal ancestry.

For more information or to sign up to one or all of the events please book online, contact the Hull History Centre on 01482 317500 or email Victoria Dawson victoria.dawson@hull.ac.uk

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