An Augmented Reality story of the journey of a female convict sent to Australia, using aggregated data from the British Library and elsewhere.


Thousands of women were sentenced to transportation to Australia in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. One of these was Mary Randall: convicted of a petty crime, she was sentenced to seven years penal servitude in Australia in 1792. This research project will produce an augmented reality (AR) experience, a downloadable app built for a cutting edge wearable device, Magic Leap, as well as available for most smartphones and tablets.


The story tracks Mary’s life in surprising detail, from her conviction, through the journey and on to her new life in Australia. The project will produce an interactive story app for the Magic Leap, and it will also work on tablets and smartphones devices. It will be playable on any surface, including within the British Library itself. Through the project we aim to bring to life this forgotten but extraordinary journey, and express to the user the value of digitised, searchable historic collections.




An Augmented Reality story of the journey of a female convict sent to Australia, using aggregated data from the British Library and elsewhere.


The project has used the British Newspaper Archive and digitised versions of the India Office Records ships logs, as well as the CLIWOC database which was derived from them. We also intend to use newspaper data from the Heritage Made Digital project when this becomes available, as well as images from the British Library’s Flickr collection, using the API, and potentially the Library’s digitised maps.


The research we do will show how immersive stories can be experienced and distributed beyond the physical location of the institution, and how this work helps bring new light to forgotten groups that are traditionally underrepresented in historical research.

The project shows these objects in a new light, by giving the user a sense of the physical object (a newspaper volume, the original ships’ logs) and also showing how the digitised version and its derived data can be used. It highlights how digitised versions help to find hidden patterns or connections - it would be difficult to find the correct ship amongst all of the transportation records if it wasn’t for the ability to join datasets together, for example. 


Through the process of building this project, and future projects, we’ll research the best practices for machine learning data-driven AR storytelling using historical data as a source, which will be shared in a public format.

This project is part of a larger goal - to help organisations like the British Library develop a process and pipeline for further immersive apps and experiences relating to its digital collections and datasets, including the News exhibition planned for 2021.




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