Historical Population Health Program
Life Courses in Times Past
Professor Janet McCalman, Centre for Health & Society
Dr Rebecca Kippen, Australian Future Fellow in historical demography, Centre for Health & Society
Dr James Bradley, School of Historical & Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Arts
Professor Ian Anderson, Murrap Barak, University of Melbourne
Dr LR Smith, visiting fellow, Australian Demographic & Social Research Institute, Australian National University
Dr Per Axelsson, Centre for Sami Studies, University of Umeå, Sweden
The Life Courses in Times Past program began at the Centre for Health & Society 1999 with Australian Research Council funded investigation by Janet McCalman and Ruth Morley, then with the Menzies Research Institute, into the relationship between birth weight and adult health using the historical midwifery records of the Royal Women’s Hospital. Lying-In Hospital Birth Cohort, 1857-1900.
This was the genesis of a methodology that is unique to the program: the combination of propsopography, or systematic mass biographies, with family reconstitution, demography and epidemiology to build cradle-to-grave population datasets. This has only been possible because Victoria and Tasmania have outstanding historical and vital records of indigenous people, convicts and settlers.
The second project, the Koori Health Research Database (KHRD) was initiated by Professor Ian Anderson in 2000 and developed in partnership with the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre at Museum Victoria.
The third project, Founders & Survivors: historical life courses in historical context, 1804-1985, is built from the Tasmanian Convict records and the National Archives of Australia World War 1 AIF service and veterans’ records. It has developed partnerships with researchers from universities in Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.
The fourth project is Rebecca Kippen’s ARC Future Fellowship Epidemics, mortality and longevity in Tasmania, 1838–1930. Based on a unique database of long-run linked births, deaths and marriages, this project will give a comprehensive picture of mortality and longevity in nineteenth- and early-twentieth century Tasmania.
Why does this matter?
A nation’s health and wellbeing is a complex historical product, shaped by the natural environment, medicine, the economy, institutions, government policy, social values and intimate human relationships. And it is a lived experience, inscribed on the bodies and minds of the people.
This research program captures that complexity of experience through the application of the classical historical technique of prosopography, or multiple life stories, collated from disparate often fleeting historical sources. It frames these ‘sightings’ within robust birth, death and marriage registration data. It locates the individuals within reconstituted genealogies that in turn are tied to time and place through GIS and local, national and international history. The result is historical population data enhanced by deeper explanatory layers and nuances, providing historical contexts for evaluating intergenerational effects, interventions, and socio-economic changes.
When completed, this project will leave a legacy of population, intergenerational data for economic history, demography, epidemiology, epigenetics, developmental and social psychology and education.
This is history of the present to enable us to do better in the future.
The University of Melbourne staff welcome students and intending students interested in population health, social health, history, demography, biostatistics and digital humanities to develop research projects for either undergraduate or graduate study.
Professor Janet McCalman (Centre for Health & Society) firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Rebecca Kippen (ARC Future Fellow in historical demography, Centre for Health & Society) email@example.com
Dr James Bradley, School of Historical & Philosophical Studies, Faculty of Arts firstname.lastname@example.org
LYING-IN HOSPITAL BIRTH COHORT 1857-1900
This dataset was created from the midwifery books of the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital (now the Royal Women’s Hospital) and follows the babies born between 1857 and 1900 to their death certificate. The project began at the suggestion of Professor Shaun Brennecke of the Royal Women’s Hospital with an inquiry into the relationship between birth weight and adult health. Dr Ruth Morley, newly arrived from Great Ormond Street Hospital, where her work had included the Barker hypothesis, was the project scientist and Professor Shurlee Swain brought her expertise in infant and child welfare.
The final dataset includes 8561 cradle-to-grave records and has produced publications on birth weight and cardiovascular disease, on all-age survival and is now being used as an ‘impoverished settler’ population sample for comparative analysis with the Koori Health Research Database. Professor Gita Mishra, now a professor of life course epidemiology at the School of Population Health of the University of Queensland did the initial survival analyses. Dr Len Smith (ANU) and Dr Rebecca Kippen continue to work with Ruth Morley and Janet McCalman on the dataset.
1. 1998 ARC Large Grant Dr Janet McCalman, Dr Ruth Morley, Professor Shaun Brennecke and Dr Shurlee Swain, $152,000 for ‘Birth Weights, Life Courses and Social Destinies: Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, 1856—1936’.
2. 2001 ARC DP0209887 Discovery Grant, $178,000, Janet McCalman, ‘Respectability and health: private life and the health transition in two capital cities, London and Melbourne, 1850—1980’,
1. Janet McCalman, ‘”All just melted with heat”: mothers, babies and ‘hot winds’ in colonial Melbourne’, in Sherratt, Tim, Tom Griffiths and Libby Robin (eds) A change in the weather: Climate and culture in Australia, Canberra: National Museum of Australia Press, 2005, pp. 104-15, ISBN 1 876944 28 5.
2. Janet McCalman, ‘The past that haunts us: the historical basis of well-being in Australian children’ in Margot Prior and Sue Richardson, eds, No Time to Lose: the Wellbeing of Australia’s Children, Melbourne University Publishing, Melbourne 2005, pp. 36—59, ISBN 0 522 85220 3.
3. Janet McCalman ‘To die without friends: solitaries, drifters and failures in a New World society’ in Graeme Davison, Pat Jalland and Wilfrid Prest, eds, Body and Mind: historical essays in honour of F.B. Smith, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne 2009, pp. 173-194, ISBN 9780 522 857177.
1. Janet McCalman, Ruth Morley: ‘Mother’s health and babies’ weights: the biology of poverty at the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital, 1857—83’, Social History of Medicine, vol. 16, No. 1, April 2003, pp. 39—56.
2. Janet McCalman, Ruth Morley, John Carlin, ‘Trends in birthweight between 1857 and 1883, in Melbourne, Australia’, Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology 2003, 17, 236—243.
3. Shurlee Swain, ‘Towards a social geography of baby farming’, The History of the Family, 10 (2005) 151-159.
4. Morley, Ruth, McCalman, Janet, Carlin, John, Birth weight and coronary heart disease in a cohort born 1857 - 1900 in Melbourne, Australia, International Journal of Epidemiology, 2006, Aug; 35(4):880-5.
5. Janet McCalman, Ruth Morley and Gita Mishra, A health transition: Birth weights, households and survival in an Australian working-class population sample born 1857-1900, Social Science & Medicine (2008) vol. 66, pp. 1070-1083.
6. Janet McCalman, Ruth Morley, Inequalities of Gender and Health 1857-1985: a long-run perspective from the Melbourne Lying-In Hospital Birth Cohort, Australian Journal of Social Issues, 2008, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp 29-44.
7. Janet McCalman, Silent Witnesses: child health and well-being in England and Australia and the health transition, 1870-1940, Health Sociology Review (2009) 18: 25-35.
8. Janet McCalman, Len Smith, Ian Anderson, Ruth Morley and Gita Mishra, ‘Colonialism and the Health Transition: Aboriginal Australians and poor whites compared, Victoria, 1850-1985’, The History of the Family 14 (2009) 253—265.
9. Janet McCalman, Len Smith, Ian Anderson, Ruth Morley and Gita Mishra, ‘Colonialism and the Health Transition: Aboriginal Australians and poor whites compared, Victoria, 1850-1985’, The History of the Family 14 (2009) 253—265.
10. Janet McCalman, ‘The Good Life: what about the children?’ Australian Journal of Social Issues, (2010) 45(1) 90-100.
11. Janet McCalman, Ruth Morley, Len Smith and Ian Anderson: ‘Colonial health transitions: Aboriginal and ‘poor white’ infant mortality compared, Victoria, 1850-1910, History of the Family, 16 (2011) 62—77.
Refereed conference proceedings:
Janet McCalman, ‘Global economic cycles and Australian Families and Children’, in Australian Academy of the Social Sciences Annual Symposium, 2010 on Families and the Global Financial Crisis, published in Dialogue 2011, Vol. 30, No. 1, pp. 40-44.
KOORI HEALTH RESEARCH DATABASE (KHRD)
This database was built from the genealogies compiled over many years by Sandra Smith of the Bunjilaka Cultural Centre at Museum Victoria. The data was translated into relational database by Dr Joanne Evans and Gavan McCarthy of what is now the eScholarship Research Centre at the University of Melbourne.
The purpose was to make visible the hitherto ‘invisible’ Aboriginal Victorians who were denied recognition as Indigenous by the Half-Castes Act of 1886 and were denied equality of citizenship by the wider community. From these sources, Dr Len Smith was able to reconstitute the Aboriginal population that was not recorded in the Protection Board records and demonstrate how the Victorian Aboriginal community recovered to reach its current strength of over 30,000 people who identified in the last Commonwealth census.
This population study is providing the first strong historical data for the creation of the gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous health and wellbeing since colonisation. Comparative work with the Lying-In Hospital birth cohort on overall survival and on infant mortality to 1910 has been published. Len Smith, Rebecca Kippen, Ruth Morley and Janet McCalman are continuing the analysis, and Rebecca Kippen is engaged in comparative work with Dr Per Axelsson, of the Centre for Sami Studies, University of Umeå, Sweden. Dr Axelsson has been a visiting scholar at the Centre for Health & Society for 2011.
A second ARC grant in 2004 with Dr Richard Barwick and Gavan McCarthy additionally funded the indexing and archiving of the personal and research papers of the late Dr Diane Barwick for lodgement in the State Library of Victoria. See:
1. 1999 ARC A10020714 Large Grant with A/Prof Ian Anderson and Dr Ruth Morley: $168,000 for ‘A demographic and socio-medical history of the Aboriginal people of Victoria, 1800—2000: colonisation and epidemiological transitions'’
3. 2004 ARC DP0558298 Discovery Grant, $221,000 with Prof Ian Anderson, Mr GJ McCarthy, Dr Z Zhao, Dr RE Barwick, ‘A Demographic and socio-medical history of the Aboriginal people of Victoria, 1800-2000: reconstitutions and epidemiological analysis.
‘Fractional Identities: the political arithmetic of Aboriginal Australians,’ Len Smith, Janet McCalman, Ian Anderson, Sandra Smith, Joanne Evans, Gavan McCarthy and Jane Beer, in Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld eds, Indigenous Peoples and Demography: the complex relationship between people and statistics, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford, 2011, pp. 15-32. ISBN 978-0-85745-000-5.
1. Len Smith, Janet McCalman, Ian Anderson, Sandra Smith, Joanne Evans, Gavan McCarthy, Jane Beer, Fractional Identities: the political arithmetic of Aboriginal Victorians, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 2008, 38 (4) PP. 533-551
2. Janet McCalman, Len Smith, Ian Anderson, Ruth Morley and Gita Mishra, ‘Colonialism and the Health Transition: Aboriginal Australians and poor whites compared, Victoria, 1850-1985’, The History of the Family 14 (2009) 253—265.
3. Janet McCalman, Ruth Morley, Len Smith and Ian Anderson: ‘Colonial health transitions: Aboriginal and ‘poor white’ infant mortality compared, Victoria, 1850-1910, History of the Family, 16 (2011) 62—77.
eScholarship Research Centre, Ann McCarthy, Gavan McCarthy
Barwick, Diane Elizabeth (1938 - 1986) - Archival Project (2004 - )
This is an archival project dealing with the main record collection of Diane Elizabeth Barwick (1938-1986), political and historical anthropologist. Diane Barwick was renowned for her depth of knowledge about Aboriginal history and culture and her commitment to Aboriginal justice and equality. The records were deposited with the State Library of Victoria in 2007, and the documentation of the collection was processed using the Heritage Documentation Management System (HDMS). http://www.austehc.unimelb.edu.au/guides/barw/
A History of Victoria in one line
From ‘Fractional Identities: the political arithmetic of Aboriginal Australians,’ Len Smith, Janet McCalman, Ian Anderson, Sandra Smith, Joanne Evans, Gavan McCarthy and Jane Beer, in Per Axelsson and Peter Sköld eds, Indigenous Peoples and Demography: the complex relationship between people and statistics, Berghahn Books, New York and Oxford, 2011, pp. 15-32. ISBN 978-0-85745-000-5, p. 17.
FOUNDERS & SURVIVORS: AUSTRALIAN LIFE COURSES IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT, 1804-1985
Founders & Survivors is a partnership between historians, genealogists, demographers and population health researchers. It seeks to record and study the founding population of 73,000 men women and children who were transported to Tasmania. The project team is building a multi-generational database of convicts and their descendants, concluding with those who served in World War 1 in the AIF.
The records created of our convict founders are the most detailed descriptions of the bodies and lives of men, women and children created anywhere in the world in the 19th century. No other settler society has such a record of their founders’ heights, eye colour, literacy, skills, family history, problems and temperament.
We will follow mothers and daughters and fathers and sons, looking at life span, health, families, occupations and where they settled. We will then connect them with those who served in the AIF in World War 1 and compare the service records of the male descendants of male convicts to investigate changes in height, childhood diet and health, and resilience under stress.
This database uses advanced information technology to capture complex data that is both textual and numerical. The research populating the database with the life courses of convicts after sentence and of their descendants comes from both professional historians and genealogists and from the descendants themselves. A team of over forty volunteers from all over Australia has begun work on individual convict voyages, working from a cloud-sourced virtual work platform.
The project is managed from an interactive public website and publishes a tri-annual electronic magazine, Chainletter. http://www.foundersandsurvivors.org/
Talks and workshops have been delivered to more than a dozen community organisations in Victoria and Tasmania over the past three years.
University of Melbourne, University of Tasmania and the Menzies Research Institute, Australian National University, Monash University, Flinders University, University of Guelph, University of Ohio (at Columbus), Oxford University and the Mailman School of Public Health (Columbia University).
Tasmanian Heritage and Archives Office, National Archives of Australia.
Tasmanian Heritage and Archives Office
National Archives of Australia
1. 2006 ARC Discovery Grant, $800,000 Dr Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, Professor Janet McCalman, Dr Rebecca Kippen, Mr Gavan McCarthy, A/Prof Ralph Shlomowitz, A/Prof Alison Venn, A/Prof David Meredith, A/Prof Shyamali Dharmage, ‘Founders & Survivors: Australian life-courses in historical context.
2. 2010 Institute for the Broadband Enabled Society: $36,150, ‘The Digital Panopticon’.
3. 2010 Australian National Data Service: $95,000: Founders and Survivors’ data management.
4. 2011: ARC Discovery Grant $443,000. Rebecca Kippen, Hamish Maxwell Stewart, Damminda Alahakoon, James Bradley, S. Dharmage, Michael Shields, ‘Convicts and Diggers: a demography of life courses, families and generations’.
5. 2011 ARC Discovery Grant, $510,000: Janet McCalman, ‘Land and Life: Aborigines, convicts and immigrants in Victoria, 1835-1985: an interdisciplinary history’
1. R Kippen and P Gunn 2011. ‘Convict bastards, common-law unions, and shotgun weddings: premarital conceptions and exnuptial births in nineteenth-century Tasmania, Journal of Family History, 36(4): 387–403.
2. J Bradley, R Kippen, H Maxwell-Stewart, J McCalman and S Silcot 2010. ‘Research note: the Founders and Survivors project’, History of the Family, 15 (4): 467–477.
1. R Kippen 2009. ‘The Church, conscience and the colonies: marriage with a deceased wife’s sister in Britain and British Australia’, in A Fauve-Chamoux and I Bolovan (eds) Families in Europe Between the 19th and 21st Centuries: From the Traditional Model to Contemporary PACS, Presa Universitara Clujeana, Cluj-Napoca, ISBN 978-973-610-931-7, 463–473.
1. J McCalman 2011. ‘Visible and invisible Vandemonians in Victoria’, Chainletter, Newsletter of the Founders & Survivors project, 7: 3-5.
2. J McCalman 2010. ‘Review of Tasmania's Convicts by Alison Alexander’, Chainletter, 4: 5.
3. J McCalman 2010. ‘The advance of respectability in Tasmania’, Chainletter, 4: 7.
4. R Kippen 2009. ‘The convict nursery at the Cascades Female Factory, Hobart’, Chainletter, 3: 5–8.
5. J McCalman 2009. ‘The Founders and Survivors project: an overview’, Chainletter, 1: 6–7.
6. J McCalman 2009. ‘Hidden histories uncovered’, The Voice, April.
7. J McCalman 2009. ‘Personal details: the Founders & Survivors project’, Ancestor: Quarterly Journal of the Genealogical Society of Victoria Inc, 29(6): 7–9.
8. J McCalman 2009. ‘Chains of evidence: the Founders & Survivors project’, The Genealogist: the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies, 12(10): 16–17.
1. J McCalman, School of Historical Studies Public Lecture Series, University of Melbourne: ‘Life after sentence: mapping the fate of Tasmania’s convicts’, 14 April 2010.
2. J McCalman, S Silcot, LR Smith, Life of Information Symposium, Australian National University, ‘The Founders & Survivors Project’, 24 September 2010.
3. J McCalman, “The Founders & Survivors project as Digitising Culture”, Australian Academy of the Humanities Annual Symposium, “Sharing our Common Wealth: Cultural Institutions”, Adelaide 19th November 2011.
Founders & Survivors’ website: http://www.foundersandsurvivors.org
Chainletter ISSN 1839-6402, 2009-, three issues per year. For all issues see http://www.foundersandsurvivors.org/newsletter
Transcribers’ workshops in partnership with the Female Convict Research Group, Tasmania.
Family history workshops in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Radio interviews: ABC Radio National, Life Matters, talk-back with Hamish Maxwell-Stewart on Founders & Survivors, 29 January 2010
EPIDEMICS, MORTALITY AND LONGEVITY IN TASMANIA, 1838–1930
Rebecca Kippen, Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, 2010–2014
Based on a unique database of long-run linked births, deaths and marriages, this project will give a comprehensive picture of mortality and longevity in nineteenth- and early-twentieth century Tasmania. The study will build detailed profiles and analyses of early epidemics and their impact at the individual, family and community level; explore links between early-life experiences and later-life mortality; examine the relationship between fecundity and longevity; and determine levels of fecundity in women at older reproductive ages. The project forms part of an ongoing meta-study building and analysing a multigenerational database of Australia’s population from the time of British colonisation.
This project investigates areas of contemporary importance that can only be explored using historic-demographic data. National benefits include (1) gaining a better understanding of how epidemics spread through families and communities, and possible mortality and case-fatality rates, to assist in preparation for future epidemics; (2) improved accuracy in projecting older-age mortality and population ageing in Australia and other countries; and (3) more precise estimates of women's capacity to naturally conceive and carry to term by characteristics such as her age, her partner's age, and her number of previous births.
- B Opeskin and R Kippen. ‘The balance of the sexes: the feminisation of Australia’s population, 1901–2008’, Population, Space and Place, DOI: 10.1002/psp.691, forthcoming.
- R Kippen and S Walters. ‘Is sibling rivalry fatal? The impact of co-resident siblings and m
- ortality clustering on under-five mortality in nineteenth-century Sart, Belgium’, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 42(4), forthcoming.
- R Kippen 2011. ‘ “A pestilence stalks abroad”: familial clustering of deaths during the Tasmanian scarlet fever, measles and influenza epidemics of 1852–54’, Genus, 67(2), forthcoming.
- R Kippen 2011. ‘ “Incorrect, loose and coarse terms”: classifying nineteenth-century English-language causes of death for modern use. An example from Tasmania.’, Journal of Population Research, 28(4): 267–291.
- RA Covey, G Childs and R Kippen 2011. ‘Dynamics of Indigenous demographic fluctuations: lessons from sixteenth-century Cusco, Peru’, Current Anthropology, 52(3): 335–360.
- R Kippen 2010 ‘A most shocking issue of barbarous cruelty: scandal and death in the Queen’s Orphan Schools, Chainletter, Newsletter of the Founders and Survivors project, 5: 5–6.
- R Kippen 2010 ‘Rabies in Tasmania’, Chainletter, Newsletter of the Founders and Survivors project, 6: 4–5.
- R Kippen 2011. ‘Non-normative family formation? Premarital conceptions and exnuptial births in nineteenth-century Tasmania’, History of Motherhood Symposium, Sydney, 29 September (research with P Gunn).
- R Kippen 2011. ‘Consumption in the colonies: patterns of tuberculosis mortality in nineteenth-century Tasmania’, Australian Historical Association Regional Conference, Launceston, 4–8 July.
- R Kippen 2010. ‘Developing a classification system for nineteenth-century causes of death’, Australian Population Association Conference, Brisbane, 30 November – 3 December.
- R Kippen 2010. ‘ “Summer is here, fraught with death to hapless babes”: the seasonality of infant mortality in late nineteenth-century Tasmania’, European Population Conference, Vienna, 1–4 September.
- R Kippen 2010. ‘ “A most shocking tissue of barbarous cruelty”: scandal and death in the Hobart convict nurseries and Queen’s Orphan School’, Oceanic Passages Conference, Hobart, 23–25 June.