People of the White Australia Policy Part 2


These boots are made for measuring!

When marking up the data of the transcriptions files I came across something that I found quite fascinating. This was that heights for the individuals included how tall they were in boots. This little bit of information just kept sitting in my head this unusual fact that measurements were taken when somebody was wearing boots.

So I tried to find out how much height a boot would add. I started looking through trove and online and I couldn’t find anything that was absolute. Most of the things I came across suggested it would add an inch. But then this research got me thinking about how the data is collected for height; were people measured by using measuring tape or was the wall a ruler and people had to stand next to it. Were people told to stand up straight or just told to stand. Just all these variables about this one little bit of data of height just kept on making me try and work out how it was generated. So, I decided to conduct a little experiment using other people in the class as guinea pigs.

My experiment was that I asked the class to stand against the wall and have their height measured both in boots and not in boots with no other instructions. Some interesting things observed is that some people move their heads in various ways giving themselves extra height or losing height. People took measurements from different points making the measurements inconsistent. I for one intentionally slouched for my height without boots but stood as tall as I could with boots to try and give myself the biggest variation. Below is the table of our results showing that on average most people would gain an inch when in boots with some outliers caused by intentionally trying to manipulate the data.

In conclusion I feel that this is an interesting way of looking at how data is collected on a small-scale as it shows that without knowing how the data was collected it’s hard to know how you can use it.


By Steven Doyle




People of the Real Face of White Australia Part 1


The ages of travelers recorded in the data, falls largely between the ages of thirty and fifty, with a small number of outliers on either side. We can see from the numbers that most of those travelling in and out of Australia at the time were adults, mostly of middle age. We know from the records that many had families ‘back home’ in their countries of origin. The predominantly male travelers were returning to wives and children across the seas, either to visit, or see to the livelihood of their relatives.


From the 284 data sets obtained, it was found that the most represented nationality, requiring an exemption document was Chinese, at 88% of all the travelers. The remainder was 9.8% Indian and 1.1%  Syrian. The other, at 0.7% comprised of one Japanese person and one identified as Assyrian. Despite the data set reportedly recording nationality of the travelers, Assyria (an ethnic minority who have lived mostly in what is now known as Iraq for thousands of years) was not seen as a nationality or country at the beginning of the twentieth century.  During the early twentieth century, this land was under control of the Ottoman Empire, and later under the control of the British after World War I.  The fact that ‘Assyrian’ has been recorded as a nationality is probably an example of human error. Whoever recorded the information would not likely have known any better. It is possible that the traveler referred to themselves as ‘Assyrian’, (as they likely felt more ties to their ethnic group than to the country/nationality) the way that, for instance, an Iraqi Kurd may describe themselves as coming from Kurdistan.





Mantilla, Y. 2016, “ISIS’ crimes against humanity and the Assyrian people: religious totalitarianism and the protection of fundamental human rights”, ILSA Journal of International & Comparative Law, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 77.