Tens of Thousands of Australian Prison Portraits Captured Online from 15 Jails Over 50 Years

If your ancestor or other relative was a (ahem) guest of the New South Wales government for a while, you may find his or her picture in an online database

The NSW State Archives recently digitised 46,000 images and collated them in an exhibition titled Captured: Portraits of Crime. From “wicked old woman” Sarah Clifford to William Plummer, who spent five decades in and out of jail there are tens of thousands of records to rifle through.

Born in Jamaica in 1833, Sarah Clifford was a known pick pocketer in both NSW and Tasmania.

The collection is described as “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).”

Arthur Astill was arrested for murder at just 16 years of age.

Check it out at: https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/archives/collections-and-research/guides-and-indexes/gaol-inmates-prisoners-photos-index.

One Comment

Thanks for the pointer! I found a match for one of my relatives who had quite a bit of legal trouble in New South Wales, especially after abandoning his first family in Tasmania. I had never seen a picture of him that young before.


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