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Vintage female mug shots give history lessons

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Sydney, Australia is a city created by inmate labor. Perhaps this is why Australia has a somewhat "rough and rowdy" reputation. A series of female mug shots from Australia's past confirms its crime history.

Frustrated with prison overcrowding, English prisons began shipping inmates to the United States for indentured servitude; sometimes those convicted were given a choice: shipped away, or to rot away in the filthy conditions of English prisons. The American War of Independence stopped this practice; the inmates were sent to Australia (an estimated 166,000 men, women, and children were transported between 1787 - 1868). In 1819 the Hyde Park Barracks became a prison for men and boys. Later it was revised as a hostel for Irish women escaping the famine, and later an insane asylum for women. Today Hyde Park Barracks is one of 11 Australian convict sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The earliest known "mug shots" were taken in Belgium around 1844. Several years later, police in the United Kingdom began using photographs to identify criminals. In 1888, criminologist Alphonse Bertillion developed and standardized the mug shot.

Here are a few mug shots taken of female criminals during the turn of the century in Australia. All of the mug shots were taken in New South Wales, Australia. They are archived at The Historic House of Trust. The faces have changed, but the type of crimes committed by women have not. History, in the faces of crime, surely repeats itself.

To learn more about Sydney Living Museums, click HERE

My webpage & crime prevention book HERE

Photo of J. Yates credit HERE

Dorothy Mort
Dorothy Mort The Historic House of Trust

Dorothy Mort

Mrs. Dorothy Mort was having an affair with Dr. Claude Tozer. Tozer decided he had to end the affair and went to her home on December 21, 1920 to break the news to his mistress. Overcome with rage, she shot him dead before attempting suicide. She is 32 years old in this photo.

Nellie Cameron
Nellie Cameron The Historic House of Trust

Nellie Cameron

One of the most popular prostitutes in Sydney, Australia, Nellie Cameron is seen here at aged 21. Australia's first police woman L. Armfield said of Cameron, "she has an assured poise that set her apart from the other women of the underworld."

Eugenia Falleni
Eugenia Falleni The Historic House of Trust

Eugenia Falleni

Eugenia Falleni spent most of her life disguised as a man, calling herself "Harry Crawford." In 1912 "Harry" married widowed Annie Birkett and then murdered her. She is about 43 years old in this photo. The case made headlines due to the cross-gender aspect  of the "man/woman murder."

Muriel Goldsmith
Muriel Goldsmith Historic House of Trust

Muriel Goldsmith

25 year old Muriel Goldsmith also went by numerous aliases. She was a thief who stole money, jewelry, and more. She was caught stealing from the Wagga Wagga Criterion Hotel and this is the mug shot taken for that particular charge.

Emily Hemsworth
Emily Hemsworth Historic House of Trust

Emily Hemsworth

24 year old Emily Hemsworth murdered her three week old son but claimed to not recall the details. Found not guilty by insanity, she was detained until judged fit to return to society. 

Janet Wright
Janet Wright Historic House of Trust

Janet Wright

Former nurse Janet Wright performed illegal abortions in her home and was convicted of "using an instrument to procure a miscarriage." A teenaged patient was nearly killed as the result of the botched abortion. 68 year old Wright received 12 months of hard labor.



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