Though we aren’t excavating anymore, we are still very busy. There’s a lot of research that still needs doing into the evolution and use of the workshops’ space, as well as the lifecourses of the men who worked within it. The team are busily transcribing records that will help us understand all this a little bit more. We collected a lot of correspondence concerning shoemaking and shoemakers, which, once transcribed, will shed some light on the people and processes; particularly the tension between importing low quality shoes made and Britain and the production of shoes and boots at the station. This type of debate gets very much to the heart of our ‘punishment vs profit’ question.
We’re also transcribing large amounts of production data for all the stations on the Tasman Peninsula during the period 1843-55. These show what raw materials and manufactured items each station was producing, which in turn allows us to contextualise the production at Port Arthur. We also have a book from the 1860s which lists all the trades being carried out at Port Arthur and the names of the men who were engaged in them. Once transcribed, this will allow us to flesh out previously-hidden lifecourses and to ask questions about skills-deployment and retention amongst the unfree workforce.
Lastly, but definitely not leastly, the crew are also validating a huge amount of data on our collections. Once done, this will enable us – and future researchers – to better search and use the Port Arthur archaeology collection.
Onward! To glory!