Find your ancestors in Queensland, Toowoomba Girls Reformatory admissions & discharges 1881-1903

What can these records tell me?

The transcripts of the admissions and discharges from the Industrial School for Girls in Toowoomba (formerly the Industrial and Reformatory School for Girls) will provide you the following information:

  • Full name
  • Age
  • Birth year and place
  • Year and event date
  • Place
  • State and country
  • Registered number
  • Image and item ID
  • QSA reference
  • Source

While the majority of the girls were born in Queensland, others were born abroad or in different parts of Australia. Some locations include Germany, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and “at sea.”

The transcripts are provided under creative commons and are free to view.


Images can be viewed online at the Queensland State Archives by searching by the QSA reference number and image ID found on your ancestor’s transcript.

Images for admissions may provide additional information such as details pertaining to your ancestor’s physical description, religion, trade and literacy. Images may also provide notations referring to race, such as “Aboriginal” or “half-caste.”

Images for discharges will also provide additional information. Under remarks, details are provided as to the reason and means of discharge, particularly whether a girl was discharged to service or if her sentence was remitted or completed. If a girl was discharged to service, the name of the individual to whom she was placed in service is sometimes included.

Follow the links in the Useful Links & Resources section to search images of these records.

Discover more about these records

These records are from the Industrial School for Girls in Toowoomba, formerly called the Industrial and Reformatory School for Girls until 1890, and include admissions from 1881 to 1903 and discharges from 1882 to 1903. The school was government-run. It opened on 1 April 1881 and closed on 14 October 1903.

It was originally the Toowoomba jail and was converted under the Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act of 1865, which stipulated that children under the age of 15 who were deemed “neglected” would be sent to a reformatory or industrial school. The term “neglected” was broadly defined and applied to seven different scenarios. For example, a neglected child could refer to both a child who was living on the streets and one who had committed a crime punishable by imprisonment. It is important to note, however, that the seventh and final definition for “neglected child” reads, “Any child born of an aboriginal of half-caste mother.” As a result, many Aboriginal children were deemed “neglected” and subsequently sent to reformatory and industrial schools. The act was repealed in 1911 with the passing of the State Children Act 1911. You can read the Industrial and Reformatory Schools Act of 1865 in its entirety by following the link in the Useful Links & Resources section.