Victorian child prisoner, Albert Cullum (PCOM 2/300)
Victorian child prisoner, Albert Cullum (PCOM 2/300)

This workshop introduces pupils to documents about Victorian child criminals and the background of Victorian crime and punishment. Working in groups, pupils study documents relating to a particular Victorian child who was sent to prison. The documents contain a photograph of each child, with details of their name, age, address, crime committed and punishment received.

For the first part of the workshop, pupils will feed back what they have found out about their child. They will look at additional documents relating to Victorian prisons to investigate what conditions and punishments were really like. The education officer delivering the workshop will lead a discussion on the social and economic background of these children´s lives, and Victorian attitudes to crime and punishment, to provide a context for understanding these cases.

For the second part of the workshop, pupils will learn to write a poem about their Victorian child criminal in the first person. The use of metaphors to help them describe their thoughts and feelings as this child will be explained and discussed. They will then use these ideas to write their own poem and demonstrate their empathy with their Victorian child and understanding of the period.

The Keeper's Gallery Creative Response Competition

The National Archives is launching Creative Response, an exciting new initiative giving school students the chance to have their artwork, poem or sculpture on display in The Keeper's Gallery at The National Archives alongside some of our greatest national treasures.

The competition is aimed at students who are taking part in one of our education workshops (Poor Victorian Children or Four Days Hard Labour) on the Victorians. Following their taught workshop, we are inviting the students to reflect on the documents that they have seen and to respond creatively. Perhaps they will be inspired to write a poem or a short piece of fiction, design a sculpture, make a short film or create a piece of artwork.

At the end of the competition, three winners and a small number of runners-up will be selected by the Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives. The winners and some of runners up will have their entries displayed for three months in The Keeper's Gallery. Pictures will also be published on our website.

Find out more and read our competition guidelines

"The workshop gave our students a unique opportunity to look at original documents - they went away with a real feeling of having been treated as 'historians'." Year 5 teacher

Session options

This session can be delivered as a

  • Workshop
  • Videoconference
  • Virtual classroom

Available: All year

Cost: Free

Duration: 2 hours as a workshop or 1 hour as a videoconference or virtual classroom

Age: Years 5-6

Download the resource pack for this session as a PDF (1.46Mb)