Find out what types of prison records are available and how to access them



The major sources from our collection relating to gaol staff employed by the NSW Department of Corrective Services and its predecessors.


Fully digitised
Broken Hill Gaol - gaol photograph of Jim Skidmore, 1927. Digital ID  2057_a006_a00603_6018000139r

The Gaol Photographic Description Books contain a photograph of each prisoner and personal and criminal history. 

George Scott alias Captain Moonlight: Outlaw & Bushranger


Have you fallen victim to a card sharper, or card shark as they are more commonly known as today? A card sharp was a person who cheated at cards to win money.

Darlinghurst Gaol, 1875 Photo of Margaret Greenwood (formerly an imperial convict) 1 of 2. Digital ID 2138_a006_a00603_604000061ar

The photographing of prisoners was introduced into New South Wales gaols in 1871. This 1875...

Trial Bay Gaol Photo - John Donohoe pre-1910. Digital ID 2549_a006_a00603_601900000183

These photos of prisoners were accompanied by the following details: name, aliases, date when portrait was taken, native place, year of birth, arrived in colony - ship and year, trade or occupation, religion, degree of education, height, weight (on committal, on discharge), colour of...

In this episode of Archives Behind the Scenes episode we show you the very popular Gaol Photo Description Books.

The photos (or mugshots) of prisoners are from gaols right across NSW and date from 1870-1930.

They include criminals from all walks of life....

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, Cecil Pierpont

Cecil Pierpont, a 37 year old musician from England, was photographed at Parramatta Gaol on 20 October 1903 while serving a twelve month sentence for false pretences.

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, James Dwyer

James Dwyer, a 25 year old postal official born at Camden Park, the ‘great feudal estate’ of the Macarthur-Onslows, was photographed at Darlinghurst Gaol on 17 June 1899 the day after he  had been convicted of forgery and uttering.

"Examples of Dwyer’s handwriting were...

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, Jim Skidmore

Jim Skidmore, a 34 year old station hand from Sydney, was photographed at Broken Hill Gaol on 31 May 1927 while serving a sentence of six months hard labour for the illegal use of a motor car.

Skidmore and his co-accused, Roy Davidson, aged 39—also a station hand—...

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, Margaret Higgins

Margaret Higgins, a 45 year old servant from Maitland, was photographed at Dubbo Gaol on 17 October 1905 while serving a life sentence for murder.

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, Pier McDhoon

Pier McDhoon, born in New Caledonia or India c. 1872, was convicted of multiple horse stealing offences between 1887 and 1913, and was photographed on at least six occasions at Darlinghurst and Parramatta gaols.

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, Sarah Clifford

Sarah Clifford, born in Jamaica c.1833, was a former convict and known pickpocket in both Tasmania and NSW. She was photographed numerous times at Darlinghurst and Biloela gaols between 1872 and 1910. Clifford was convicted and gaoled for scores of stealing and petty offences over a four decade...

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, William Plummer

William Plummer, a 66 year old whitesmith (metal worker) originally from England, was photographed at Parramatta Gaol on 26 March 1884 while serving a sentence of four years hard labour for burglary.

The half blind, elderly man with flagellation scars and arms tattooed with...

Captured: Portraits of Crime 1870-1930, Willie and Jacky

Willie Kenambury, a 24 year old tracker, was photographed at Albury Gaol on 10 January 1894 while on remand for murder. His co-accused, Jacky Bullyell, 25 years old, was also a tracker. Both men were from Fraser Island, Queensland.


Arthur Astill, a 16 year old labourer from Orange in central west NSW, was photographed at Dubbo Gaol on 24 January 1893 while awaiting trial for murder.

Sources and techniques to find all the details of your gaolbird ancestor.

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