Portrait roll from Långholmens Vakt outside a guardhouse on the wall around Långholmens prison, prison, 1898. 1910s. Photo: Svenska Dagbladet.
When a convict was released from the Central Prison at Långholmen around the turn of the century in 1900, a biographical sheet was created about the prisoner. The leaves were collected in so-called portrait rolls, and contain photographs of the convicts. The rolls also contain information about appearance, date of birth, when the prisoner started serving his sentence, from which prison he was transferred, when he was released and where he was sent, and how much money he earned during his stay at Långholmen. Your task is to investigate how the portrait scrolls can be used as historical sources!
Sources: Go to Stockholmskällan – search for: “Porträttrollor”. Then you will find the portrait series of people who were in the prison at Långholmen.
Task: Go through some of the scrolls. Then answer the following questions:
A: What crimes have the prisoners committed? Give ten examples.
B: What do the sources say about the society of the time?
C: Who drew up the portrait scrolls, and why, do you think?
D: How credible are these sources? Is there any information about the prisoners you can question? Examine some of the portrait scrolls more closely based on the source-critical criteria of proximity, dependence and tendency.
E: Is it important to save this type of document? Why or why not? Q: What can these sources be used for?
A: How do we know what we know about the past?
B: Why is it so important to be critical of sources in today’s society?
Ask your teacher how to present the work!