'Nothing is Neutral' workshop

LEARNING RESOURCE HISTORY EXTENSION: THE PROJECT - 2014

How could historians uncover the stories behind these images?

Museums are important places for student historians. They have valuable research collections that are convenient to access, and they allow students to engage with curators, historians and other experts who collaborate to research, interpret, construct and display historical narratives.

The Justice & Police Museum holds a fascinating collection of glass plate negatives from the NSW Police Forensic Archive; many of the people in the photographs remain unknown.

This historical enquiry workshop activity was initially developed for The Project: History Extension Seminar 2014 to show students how they could work as historians and uncover the stories behind the people, using a range of digital archives. During the workshop students critically assessed the range of sources on display in the exhibition City of Shadows and worked in groups to analyse their discoveries.

Classroom students can also use this collection to practise their historical research skills. Follow the instructions and links below to research the people in the pictures. Then use this research to answer the enquiry questions based on what you found.

The links below will only give you a glimpse into their lives – so see what else you can uncover.


NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Sydney Living Museums

Enquiry question – Who was Ernest Dixon?

Source 1:
Newspaper article

Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: 1888-1954)
Date: Thursday 25 March, 1920.

Go to this link: Ernest Dixon source 1

Q. What does this source tell you about Ernest Dixon?

 

Source 2:
WWI military service record – National Archives of Australia

Go to this link: Ernest Dixon source 2

Then search the archive using the information below.

Basic Search

Keywords: Ernest James Dixon
Date from: 1914-1918
Select: digitised record for # 3508806

Q. What is listed as his, ‘Trade or Calling’? [found on either on page 1 or 7]

 

Source 3:
Newspaper article

Evening News (Sydney, NSW: 1869-1931)
Date: Monday 17, May 1920.

Go to this link: Ernest Dixon source 3

Q. What happened to him at the trial?

 

Extension activity:
Using the evidence you found during your research, write a short paragraph about who Ernest Dixon was.


Resources used for research:
Trove
National Archives of Australia
NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Historic Houses Trust of NSW.


NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Sydney Living Museums

Enquiry question – What crime had Matilda Devine committed? 

Source 1:
Newspaper article

Northern Star (Lismore, NSW: 1876-1954)
Date: Wednesday 27 May, 1925, p.3.

Go to this link: Matilda Devine source 1

 

Source 2:
Newspaper article

The West Australian (Perth, WA: 1879-1954)
Date: Wednesday 27, May 1925, p.9.

Go to this link: Matilda Devine source 2

Q. How was she described by the media?

 

Source 3:
Newspaper article

Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: 1888-1954
Date: Wednesday 27, May 1925, p.1.

Go to this link: Matilda Devine source 3

Q. What happened to her at the trial?

 

Extension activity:
Using the evidence you found during your research, write a short paragraph about the crime Matilda Devine committed, and what happened at her trial.


Resources used for research:
Trove 
NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Historic Houses Trust of NSW


NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Sydney Living Museums

Enquiry question – Why was Isabella Higgs arrested?

Source 1:
Newspaper article

Adelong and Tumut Express and Tumbarumba Post (NSW: 1900 - 1925)
Date: Friday 22, February 1924, p.6.

Go to this link: Isabella Higgs source 1

 

Source 2:
NSW Crimes Act 1900

Go to this link: Isabella Higgs source 2

Go to:
Division – 12
Section – 82-84

Q. What is the crime that is listed in this section?

 

Source 3:
Newspaper article

Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: 1888-1954)
Date: Wednesday 9, July 1924, p.1.

Go to this link: Isabella Higgs source 3

Q. What was Isabella’s role in the trial?

 

Extension activity:
Using the evidence you found during your research, write a short paragraph about why Isabella Higgs had been arrested, and what happened.


Resources used for research:
Trove
Australasian Legal Information Institute
NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Historic Houses Trust of NSW