Catching criminals in Queensland State Archives’ collection

Are you looking for an individual who seems to have just disappeared? Someone who might be a bit of a shady character? Then criminal records in Queensland State Archives’ collection could be just what you need to make a research breakthrough! Catching historical criminals in Queensland is easy when you learn more about the types of records available for your research.

We’ll now look at some of the types of records in our collection that could help you get on track to find your potential historical criminal.

Criminal photographs

We have a number of different series of criminal photographs – such as Series ID 3693, Series ID 1231, and Series ID 14872. Some of these criminal photographs have been digitised and made available in Image Queensland. Type the name of your person in the catalogue to find possible matches.

Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 18055: Photographic record, description and criminal history of Ada Allen, 1 March 1921
Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 18055: Photographic record, description and criminal history of Ada Allen, 1 March 1921

Ada Allen, an example criminal photograph record, illustrates the information that can be found on this type of document. For example, we see that Ada was prosecuted for bigamy in 1921. The record provides details to show Ada was arrested at Banana and was tried at Toowoomba. It also shows the sentence for her offence, a physical description and some biographical information.

Court records and police station records

Minor cases – both criminal and civil – can be heard before the Court of Petty Sessions or the Magistrates Court. Records from these courts, such as bench record or summons book records, can be very helpful to find details of cases. Each Court of Petty Sessions or Magistrates Court can have its own bench record or summons book records in our collection. Try searching the catalogue for the name of the court – for example, Court of Petty Sessions Brisbane or Magistrates Court Bowen – to find out what court records we hold.

Similarly, police charge bench books – listed in the catalogue under the name of the Court of Petty Sessions, Magistrates Court or Police Station that created the register – can provide you with details of minor criminal cases.

Other criminal and civil cases may be heard before the District Court or the Supreme Court. When searching for criminal cases, the Registers of Criminal Cases Tried (Series ID 5983 or Series ID 5989) can be a useful starting point to find further records on your historical criminal. Indictments and depositions heard at these courts can also give you more detail about the prosecution of your historical criminal.

Court records we hold for the District Court or the Supreme Court are arranged by the name of the court where the case was heard. Search the catalogue by the name of the court – for example, District Court Brisbane or Supreme Court Townsville – to see what records are available for your research.

Queensland Police Gazette

The Queensland Police Gazette was published weekly and provided Queensland Police with a wide variety of information about crime in Queensland. It also generally includes information about changes in the police force such as transfers and promotions.

The Queensland Police Gazette (Series ID 798) has an index by surname and/or topic which lists references – including but not limited to – the following:

  • missing persons
  • apprehended persons
  • releases from prison
  • entries for court cases tried; and,
  • many other interesting finds.
Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 23435: Queensland Police Gazette - Vol LXI, No 66, pp 653-654, 6 December 1924
Queensland State Archives Digital Image ID 23435: Queensland Police Gazette – Vol LXI, No 66, pp 653-654, 6 December 1924

This Queensland Police Gazette example shows the photograph and notice concerning Charles Leslie – a prisoner who escaped from His Majesty’s Penal Establishment, St Helena in November 1924. There are also notices about changes in the police force, a list of miscellaneous crimes and offences, and a list of watches reported lost or stolen.

If you need further advice on how to get started looking for historical criminal records in Queensland, why not contact us on 07 3131 7777 or send an email enquiry to info@archives.qld.gov.au.

Susan Boulton
A/Manager Public Access
Queensland State Archives

About Queensland State Archives

For more information about Queensland State Archives visit www.archives.qld.gov.au

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