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ISSN 1749-8155

Special issue - Histories of Punishment

This special issue (put together by Katy Roscoe, Pearsall Fellow at the IHR) features reviews of histories of punishment, published both as books and as digital resources. They showcase the diversity of criminal sentencing practices the state has deployed to punish and deter crime, reform criminals, and extract labour from convicts. Alongside key texts on the emergence of the prison, it draws attention to the variety of punishments that have been used over the last few centuries, including transportation, prison hulks, juvenile reformatories, executions, and exile. The collection benefits from its global, if Anglo-centric, scope that includes America, Australia, Britain, Germany and Russia. These thirteen works all use crime and punishment as a lens through which to examine wider issues of class, age, gender, politics, science, and social change.

Review Date: 
8 Jun 2017

Sarah Badcock has made a name for herself as, alongside the likes of Aaron Retish, one seeking to spread and deepen our understanding of the Russian Revolution in hitherto under- or little-explored regions – both geographical (the Volga provinces) and social (the peasantry of European Russia’s periphery).(1) She has now moved both eastwards and backwards to explore the

Review Date: 
20 Apr 2017

Prisons are never far from the headlines at the present time in the UK. As I write, a new Prisons and Courts Bill is being hailed as ‘a historical shift in thinking about the purpose of prisons’, on the grounds that it sets out rehabilitation as a specific, statutory goal.

Review Date: 
4 Aug 2016

At the start of this century, Tim Hitchcock and Bob Shoemaker undertook the digitisation of the surviving editions of the Old Bailey Proceedings, with the object to create a searchable resource in a form accessible to the public and free at the point of use. Last year, 2015, was the anniversary of the launch of the first database in 2005.

Review Date: 
20 Feb 2014

This book is a study of the exercise of imperial power in the early modern era and the way authorities at all levels moved, expelled, and transported people within the British Empire. Morgan and Rushton investigate some of the processes by which a wide variety of peoples under many different circumstances were forcibly moved.

Review Date: 
30 May 2013

Military men, as histories of the Royal Navy in particular have shown, tend to be interested in controlling sanitary conditions. Among seamen, maintaining health was always essential otherwise ships could not remain at sea. The main theme of Dr. Katherine Foxhall’s interesting book is voyages to Australia.

Review Date: 
1 May 2010

The Proceedings of the Old Bailey have only been available to historians online since 2003 but, speaking as someone who probably visits the site two or three times a week, I am bound to wonder at how we all managed before then.

Review Date: 
31 Aug 2009

This is an ambitious and weighty study of prisons, prison labour and penology from the early Republican period through the Depression years which McLennan argues has been characterised by ‘a long continuum of episodic instability, conflict, and political crisis’ (p. 2).

Review Date: 
1 Nov 2008

This study has several claims for attention, not least on account of its focus on Van Diemen’s Land from the time of its colonial beginnings as a place of secondary punishment from New South Wales in 1803 to the conclusion of direct transportation in 1853: the fifty years covered by the work offer a substantial analysis of the whole period of its existence as a penal colony from its inception u

Review Date: 
1 Jul 2008

Andrea McKenzie begins her preface to Tyburn's Martyrs by attempting to locate the 18th-century Tyburn execution in the broader modern cultural context.

Review Date: 
1 Apr 2005

Until 1975 those who wanted to study the history of English prisons turned to the standard work on the subject which was first published in 1922, English Prisons Under Local Government, by the two pioneers of the history of English Social Policy Sidney and Beatrice Webb.(1) This carefully researched account emphasised the evolution of the

Review Date: 
31 Dec 2000

Crime and the law, particularly during the period of the Hanoverian Bloody Code, has been a popular area of research for a quarter of a century. The publications that emerged from Edward Thompson and the young scholars who gathered round him at Warwick in the late 1960s and early 1970s were the inspiration for much of the recent work.

Review Date: 
1 Mar 2000

In the last 25 years or so the social history of crime, and more recently of juvenile delinquency, has taken enormous strides both in Britain and elsewhere. The book under review is a well-crafted example of the outpouring of studies on English nineteenth-century crime.

Review Date: 
1 Nov 1996

"Woman manacled before giving birth" and "Battery hen cells being built for women" are only two of the various horror stories about everyday life in British prisons which have recently hit the headlines. Hardly a week seems to go by without new revelations about dire conditions in prisons both here and across the Atlantic.