Key research interests: Height and health in history; Body mass - a new frontier in anthropometrics; Micro-economics of the household; Penal transportation to Australia; Coercive labour systems; Colonial Australian development; Crime and punishment in Great Britain and Ireland.
Convict Maids: The forced migration of women to Australia (CUP 1996)
Convict Maids destroys the myth that the female convicts transported from Britain and Ireland to New South Wales between 1826 and 1840 were mainly prostitutes, professional criminals and the 'sweepings of the gaols'. Deborah Oxley argues that in fact these women helped put the colony on its feet. Oxley shows that the women were generally first offenders, transported for minor offences. They were skilled, literate, young and healthy - qualities exploited by the new colony, which needed them both in the labour market and as wives and mothers. This is the first major study to analyse the backgrounds of female convicts against the general labour force. It also compares the legal systems and economies of Britain and Ireland, placing the women's crimes in context. Convict Maids draws on historical, economic and feminist theory, and is impressive for its extensive and original research.
Weighty Matters: A Somatic History of the Industrial Revolution
Digital Panopticon: The Global Impact of London Punishments
Convict Australia: Coercions and Freedoms in Australian Penal Colonies
In 2013, I presented the Economic History Society Tawney Lecture on Anthropometrics, Gender & Health Inequality in History:
In 2014-17, Deborah is a Leverhulme Major Research Fellow, working on 'Weighty Matters: Anthropometrics, gender and health inequality in Britain's past'.
Deborah is also part of a team working on The Digital Panopticon, an AHRC Digital Transformations Grant, uniting the Old Bailey Online with Australian convict records to examine the long-term impact of penal policy.
I would be willing to hear from potential DPhil students regarding Anthropometrics; households and welfare; colonial Australian economic and social history or any potential Masters students looking at Economic and Social History
I currently teach:
Quantification in History
History of the Family
Advanced Paper on Crime and Punishment in England
Bound for Australia, National Theatre Platform, 30 September 2015
Australia's Convict Myths, BBC History Magazine, Australian Edition, March 2016