When Leaha Norman of New South Wales, Australia, first reviewed her MyHeritage DNA test results, she noticed something strange. While she found plenty of DNA Matches connecting her with most of her family lines, she found nothing from her great-grandfather’s family. As she looked closer, it became clear that the man who was documented as being her grandfather’s father was, in fact, not his father at all.
The name Thomas Bulman kept popping up in the family trees of matches on her grandfather’s side of the family, and when she researched him, she found that he was sentenced to imprisonment at Coonamble Court — a long distance from Goulburn, where her grandfather’s family lived.
Then, she found a record of Thomas Bulman in the New South Wales Gaol Inmates & Photos collection. The collection, which was added to MyHeritage recently courtesy of the New South Wales State Archives, contains detailed records from the Gaol Photographic Description Books, which contain photographs of prisoners from several jails in New South Wales between 1870–1930. Leaha learned from the record that Thomas had also been imprisoned in Goulburn, and likely lodged with her great-grandmother’s family after being released. What’s more — there was a high-quality photograph of Thomas.
“The photo stopped me dead,” Leaha told us. “The resemblance to my grandfather was unmistakable.”
“A high-quality 110-year-old photo is such a fabulous find,” she says. “Who would ever guess that a jail record could help your family history research so much? Having a photo and being able to see the physical resemblance lifted the discovery to another level.”
MyHeritage technology can take it up yet another level. Here is a Deep Nostalgia animation of Leaha’s great-grandfather, Thomas Bulman:
Leaha is just one of many, many Australians who have found relatives in this remarkable collection.
Anne Chapman of Healesville, Victoria, had been researching her family for only 6 weeks when she came across a record of her great-great-grandfather’s brother, Frederick Maddocks, who was convicted of piracy. Here is his portrait, colorized with MyHeritage In Color and enhanced with the Photo Enhancer:
Joanne Taviani of Brisbane found records for her great-grandmother’s sister, Maud Hampson, as well as for Maud’s husband, Kenrick, his parents, and other members of Kenrick’s family.
Researching the family, Joanne found Maudie was always the one who was hard to track. “She was born as Winifred (named after her mother), but the family always called her Maudie. When searching for her a bit more, I found her in the NSW prison files,” says Joanne. Having also found Maudie’s three marriages, but no divorces, Maudie seems to have at least found some luck in not being charged with bigamy.
Elizabeth Dolan found records of her husband’s great-great-uncles, James Kelly and Robert Kilroy. “James Jr., born 1863, had a lively criminal career,” she writes, listing off 4 Gaol records she found for him. “He has had plenty of writeups in the papers for robbery in company and burglary, and his infamous row boat trip across the harbor.” Elizabeth says she also found a record for Robert’s mother, Catherine Cuddihy, as well as her mother, two sisters, and a brother, who were all sentenced for stealing sheep.
“Hubby says that without his 10 convicts in Tassie (Kilroy), my research would be quite boring!” she laughs.
Inmates telling their own stories
MyHeritage’s innovative DeepStory feature takes the discovery experience even further, allowing users to create AI animated videos of their inmate ancestors telling their own stories. Here are two examples from the collection:
Found an Australian inmate ancestor in the collection and want to try it yourself? Here’s what to do:
- Download the record from MyHeritage: Enter the full screen view on the record page and click the download button on the upper right corner of the screen.
- Crop out the photo: Use a photo editor to crop the photo out of the record.
- Upload the photo to DeepStory: Visit myheritage.com/deepstory and upload the photo. You’ll be prompted to enter a name and write a narrative. You can draw upon the information in the record to craft their story. Read Making Your Ancestors Speak With DeepStory for more detailed instructions on creating DeepStories.
Search the New South Wales Gaol Inmates & Photos collection now — if you have Australian roots, you’re very likely to find some fascinating family stories and remarkable photos!
The post MyHeritage’s AI Technology Brings the Stories of Australian Convict Ancestors to Life appeared first on MyHeritage Blog.
Source: My Heritage