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). Please note that the dates of the books for each gaol may vary and photographs were not taken of every prisoner admitted to gaol. Gaols currently listed in the index include: Albury 1876-1929, Armidale 1894-1915, Bathurst 1874-1930, Berrima 1883-1888, Biloela 1885-1906, Broken Hill 1904-1929, Darlinghurst (Sydney) 1869-1914, Deniliquin 1895-1929, Dubbo 1889-1920, Goulburn 1884-1930, Grafton 1894-1929, Maitland 1885-1898 and 1875-1903, Parramatta 1881-1930, State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay and Trial Bay 1892-1901.
Free digitised copies of these records are available online. To date 46,000 images are online with 5,000 images to be added when available.
TIP: If someone in your family 'disappeared' these records would be worth checking. It is also a good place to find ship of arrival.