Imprisonment of Female Urban and Rural Offenders in Victoria, 1860-1920


This paper examines imprisonment data from Victoria between 1860 and 1920 to gather insights into the variations in incidence of women being convicted by rural versus urban courts, including close focus on the difference in types of offences being committed in urban and rural locations. This paper also details women’s mobility between both communities as well as change in their offending profiles based on their geographic locations. Our findings suggest that while the authorities were broadly most concerned with removing disorderly and vagrant women from both urban and rural streets, rural offending had its own characteristics that differentiate it from urban offending. Therefore, this demonstrates that when examining female offending, geographic location of an offender and offence must be taken into consideration.

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Published: 2019-02-27
Pages:100 to 115
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How to Cite
Nagy, V. and Piper, A. (2019) “Imprisonment of Female Urban and Rural Offenders in Victoria, 1860-1920”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 8(1), pp. 100-115. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v8i1.941.

Author Biographies

University of Tasmania

Lecturer in Criminology, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania

University of Technology Sydney

Dr Alana Piper is a Chancellors Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Public history at UTS. Her current project (2018-2022) uses digital history to map the lives and criminal careers of Australian offenders across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ( Her research interests draw together the social and cultural history of crime with gender history, legal history and the digital humanities.

Alana received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Queensland in 2014 for a thesis examining female involvement in Australian criminal subcultures across the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Between 2014 and 2018, Alana was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ARC Laureate Fellowship project, The Prosecution Project, a digital humanities initiative that looked at the history of the criminal trial in Australia.

Alana has published widely in prestigious international journals, including the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Women’s History ReviewJournal of Social HistoryCultural and Social HistoryHistory Workshop JournalLaw & History Review and Journal of Legal History. The interdisciplinary nature of her work means her research has also appeared in forums such as the Australian and New Zealand Journal of CriminologyUNSW Law Journal and Criminal Law Journal.

Alana is also founder and managing co-editor of the Australian Women’s History Network blog VIDA.