Convict photographs held at the PRO in Victoria (Australia).
While visiting the free exhibition at the Old Treasury building in Melbourne, (Victoria) recently I was interested by the photographs of prisoners taken during the 1880s and 1890s in Victoria.
The images are part of a collection of "six large albums that contain hundreds of photographs of individual prisoners, male and female, taken during the latter half of the nineteenth century."
The explanation board states that in the 1860s prison administrators were quick to appreciate the advantages of a photographic record in the identification process.
By the 1870s photography was being linked to the prevailing sciences of physiognomy and phrenology which endeavoured to determine a person’s character by interpreting facial features, skull size and body shape.
Soon a new photograph was attached to each prisoner's record at the start of every new prison sentence. Where possible these were taken to display distinguishing marks, scars, tattoos etc.
So if you have reason to suspect that an ancestor of yours had a criminal record then you might be lucky enough to trace a photo of your “reprobate”.
The reference at the base of the board was given as: Photographs of Prisoners PROV.VPRS 522/PO UNITS 2 and 3.
I have no doubt that a polite enquiry via < http://prov.vic.gov.au/ > will net a helpful reply.