Archives behind the scenes - gaol photos

In this episode of Archives Behind the Scenes 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. From those who were perhaps murderers down to someone who literally was in prison for five minutes for making a false registration on a birth certificate.

Search the index and browse the gaol photos

More Mugshots content


Behind the scenes: How to read a ‘special’

Around the world, police forces followed established conventions when taking mugshots. But Sydney police in the 1920s did things differently.

Gaol photo of Arthur Astill

Captured: Portraits of Crime, Arthur Astill

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

Full length police photo of man in suit and hat, standing in front of chair.

Sensational car chase

John Talbot Wright was arrested on 11 September 1920 after a sensational car chase through city streets