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Index to the Gaol Photographs

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We are progressively adding other gaols to this index in alphabetical order of the gaol.

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Information We have a 'digitisation-on-demand' initiative for this index. When you order a copy of a gaol photograph we will add the image to the index in due course.

Information Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that the Index to Gaol Photographs includes the names and images of Indigenous Australians, some of whom are now deceased.

About the Index

There are currently c.47,500 entries, from the photographic description books listing prisoners from the following gaols:

Note: This index is not included in the Keyname Search.

Contents of the Gaol Photograph Description Books

The Gaol Photographic Description Books contain a photograph of each prisoner and the following information: number, prisoners' name, aliases, date when portrait was taken, native place, year of birth, details of arrival in the colony - ship and year of arrival, trade or occupation, religion, standard of education, height, weight (on committal, on discharge), colour of hair, colour of eyes, marks or special features, number of previous portrait, where and when tried, offence, sentence, remarks, and details of previous convictions (where and when, offence and sentence).

The series was created in accordance with the 'Gaol Regulation' proclaimed in the NSW Government Gazette of 19 February, 1867. While the series roughly covers the period 1870-1930, the dates of the books for each gaol vary.

Gaol Photograph of Michael McCann [NRS 2138 Vol. 3/6060 Photo 6929 p.250] Gaol Photograph of Maude Allanvale [NRS 2138 Vol. 3/6060 Photo 6739 p.40] Gaol Photograph of George Dean [NRS 2138 Vol. 3/6058 Photo 6290] Gaol Photograph of George Miller [NRS 2138 Vol. 3/6044 Photo 2688 p.219]

NRS 2138 Photo Description Book [3/6073 no. 10801] NRS 2138 Darlinghurst Gaol Photo Description Book [3/6049 no. 4182] NRS 2326 Gaol Photo Description Book [5/1545 no. 80]

About Maitland Gaol

Please note there are two series for the Maitland Gaol Photograph Books NRS2326 [1885-1898] & NRS2327 [1875-1930]. NRS2327 appears to have been kept at the State Penitentiary, Long Bay. For the period 1885-1898 you may get two search results for a prisoners. Where the dates of both series overlap the information about prisoners is primarily the same although there will be cases where there is additional information. Please consider this when you are placing a copy order.

Accessing the records

Microfilm copies of the Gaol Photographic Description Books (for the gaols listed above) can be viewed in our reading room.

Copy ServiceThere is a photocopy service available from this Index. You will see an 'Add to Cart' tickbox option on the search results page(s).

Copy format: You will receive an A4 print from the black and white 35mm microfilm on photographic paper.

You can purchase duplicate microfilm reels ($55.00 each) for your local library, family history society or for your own use at home.

Other Sources


We would appreciate any feedback and suggestions you may have on using the Index.