Originally written for Volcomunity

When I checked in on Jezebel yesterday a post on female criminals from the 1870s, and their subsequent mugshots, immediately caught my eye.  The vintage photos shown were from the Newcastle City Gaol and House of Correction in England and were taken between 1871 and 1873.  These women weren't serial killers or arsonists, they were mostly petty criminals caught for shoplifting.  The article was of extra interest to me because a couple of years ago I bought three such vintage mugshots at Brimfield (the world's largest open air flea market).  The mugshots I found (shown below) were of women arrested in Chicago, IL at the turn of the 20th century (a pretty rough time for a poor woman in Chicago I'd imagine). The criminal cards I bought have a front and profile view of the woman and on the back their stats/crime are hand-penned, quite detailed in one case . . . I absolutely love them.  What were these womens' lives like? Did they get arrested again or did they end up getting a job in the labor force? Did they ever get married and have children or did they die of cholera? I'm always on the hunt for more vintage mugshots of female criminals to add to my small collection. 

 On a related side-note: I read Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City a few years ago and was completely fascinated with his historically accurate descriptions of Chicago in the 1890s during the difficult construction of the Chicago World's Fair. . . The book also has a completely true, creepy-yet-fascinating sub-plot about serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes.  Holmes used the fair to lure his victims to their deaths. He built his "World's Fair Hotel" with money he made from scams and constructed a gas chamber in the basement as well as a dissection table and crematorium to dispose of his victims' bodies.   I totally and completely recommend this book, just don't read the Holmes chapters right before bed! 

** I thought I'd also include my own mugshot for this post. . . . I created it a few years ago using Photoshop and Anna Nicole's 1989 mugshot for the background.


Blogger Liz said...

Devil in the White City is such an awesome book!

February 23, 2012 at 7:26 PM  
Blogger The Aquarians said...

These are pretty amazing historical documents, it's also interesting to see how well done their hair is, even the criminals needed a good up-do.

The listing of measurements on the back crack me up. Especially the dashes through "L. Foot" makes it seem as if she just had no left foot.

February 23, 2012 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger FSK said...

sooo rad! thanks. i will have to get that book. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. I sure to miss that city.

February 23, 2012 at 9:54 PM  
Blogger bravegrrl said...

wow, thanks for the great book recommendation!

February 24, 2012 at 12:38 AM  
Blogger PatrĂ­cia Matias aka dj Pat said...

What's your crime??? :p
Nice post!


February 24, 2012 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Story Tellers Vintage said...

They all look much nicer than the mugshots I see today, very cool pieces of history.

Definitely going to check out that book, something about serial killers always lures me in!

February 24, 2012 at 10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a cool post, what a great idea.

February 25, 2012 at 4:29 AM  
Blogger domesticated_desk said...

great post, not sure if the book is for me, but love the old images. their facial expressions are interesting!

April 2, 2012 at 6:20 PM  

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