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

Dual mugshot in black and white; man seated and then man standing, with white naval cap on.

A dubious defence

On 19 October 1921 Herbert Burridge was listed in the New South Wales Police Gazette as a deserter from HMAS Cerberus


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

Black and white image from the 1920s of a man who looks to be in his 50s.


Sydney’s underworld bosses were tough, resolute and violent – mess with one and you would know you had been in a fight

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