Research Tips

For researchers, one of the fortunate outcomes of ancestors who lived unfortunate lives is that they usually left a decent historical record behind in the archives of officialdom. It allows us track their movements and changes in fortune and appearance through time. And for many working-class people, dealing with police or prisons was one of the rare or even only times they would be photographed.

Queensland State Archives

A great starting point for researching crime and justice records would be Shauna Hicks'
Criminal Records: A Guide to Sources in Queensland (PDF). Please note that it was written in 1992 and so some catalogue details have changed, but it gives a good overview of what is out there. 


Queensland State Archives
Prison records belong to the Queensland Government and as such are usually stored at the Queensland State Archives at Runcorn, Brisbane.

When it comes to prison records, there are some very important points to remember: 

  • Not all records have survived and the archived collection is quite patchy.  
  • Prison records are subject to the Privacy Act and cannot be made public for 65 years after their original production. Exemptions can be made for family members but you would have to apply through official channels. Please contact the State Archives or Queensland Corrective Services if this applies to you.
  • Very few inmate photographs have survived. Most of these date from the late 19th century and are of males only. 

Professional Historians Association (Queensland)
If you are unable to access records, please consider engaging a professional historian via the PHA (Qld). While volunteers such as those in the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society are happy to help with small queries, if you require lengthy input please get a professional with the time on their hands. 

State Library of Queensland and various university libraries
A number of official records - such as parliamentary papers - can be found in these libraries. It is also worth checking student theses on the subject of crime and justice. Not only might the contents be useful, the referenced sources often point research in new directions. Online library resources such as 'Picture Queensland' can also be useful, and the John Oxley Library, based inside the SLQ, also has a lot of photographic material and other records not available online.

Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society (Inc.)
The BRGHS has a good library of records, including the annual 'Comptroller-General Reports', and our 'Queensland Prisons Collection' contains numerous images and artefacts. At the moment we can arrange access to our records for BRGHS members only, although we are happy to assist with limited queries.

One of our greatest resources are the BRGHS members who personally experienced Boggo Road as a working prison, and if you are looking for details about similar people we might be able to source information for you.

 In some cases, assistance with commercial projects may attract a fee.


 The BRGHS can be contacted via email.


We hope that you found the above information useful. If you have any suggestions for additions to this page, please let us know.

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