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Arlice Barnes. Convicted of second-degree burglary. Yakima, Washington. 1928.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Augustin Dupuis. Blacksmith and anarchist photographed by Alphonse Bertillon. 1894.Alphonse Bertillon/The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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From left: Leonetti, Guiffaut, and Galendemi. Arrested for bank robbery and murder. Marseilles, France. Circa 1930.FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
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Bertha Boronda. Charged with "mayhem" for slicing off her husband's penis with a straight razor.
San Jose, California.
1908.San Jose Police Department
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Carl Panzram. American serial killer and rapist. Claimed to have killed 21 people. Date unspecified.
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Catherine Flynn. Convicted of theft and sentenced to six months in Newcastle Gaol. Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K. Circa 1870s.Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
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Charles Jones. Charged with stealing clothes off a clothes line. North Shields, U.K. 1914.Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
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Charles Ormston. Newcastle upon Tyne, U.K. Circa 1930s.
Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr
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Christ Wassis. Convicted of sodomy. Spokane, Washington. 1911.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Clara Randall. Reported to police that her apartment had been broken into and her jewelry stolen. It was later discovered that she had pawned the jewelry for cash. She was sentenced to 18 months with light labor. New South Wales, Australia. 1923.Sydney Living Museums
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Clarence Anglin. One of the only five men to "escape" Alcatraz prison. Whether any of the prisoners survived their escapes remains a mystery, as their bodies have never been found. Leavenworth, Kansas. 1958.Media Drum World
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Claude F. Hankins.
Charged with the murder of George Morse, a man with whom he worked on a local fruit ranch. Hankins claims Morse abused him while they worked together. Marysville, California. 1904.Arne Svenson Collection
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Dominick Walsh. A native of Ireland convicted of burglary in the second degree. King, Washington. 1913.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Charged with "assault to murder." Circa early 1900s.Arne Svenson Collection
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E.L. Jones. Charged with grand larceny.
Circa early 1900s.Arne Svenson Collection
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Elizabeth Ruddy. A career criminal who was convicted of stealing from the house of one Andrew Foley. She was sentenced to 12 months with hard labor. Long Bay, New South Wales. 1915.Sydney Living Museums
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Ellen ("Nellie") Kreigher. One of four people arrested and charged over the murder of Gertrude Mabel Heaydon. In October the previous year Gertrude Heaydon had been taken to the Coogee flat of a woman known as "Nurse Taylor" to obtain an illegal abortion. She died there in the flat. Police later claimed she was murdered by Nurse Taylor, at the behest of Heaydon's husband, Alfred. Sydney, Australia. 1923.Sydney Living Museums
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Eugenia Falleni, aka Harry Crawford. Assigned female at birth but presented as a man. In 1913, Falleni married a widow, Annie Birkett. Falleni later murdered her. The case whipped the public into a frenzy as they clamored for details. Long Bay, New South Wales. 1920.Sydney Living Museums
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Everad Ulrich. Convicted of grand larceny. Pierce, Washington. 1922.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Francis Flood. Charged with theft and sentenced to two years of hard labor. Sydney, Australia. Circa 1920.Sydney Living Museums
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Frank Hammilton. Charged with petit larceny. Circa early 1900s.Arne Svenson Collection
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Frank Murray, aka Harry Williams. Sentenced to 12 months of hard labor for breaking, entering, and stealing. Sydney, Australia. 1929.Sydney Living Museums
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George Crawford. Convicted of carnal knowledge of a minor child. Kitsap, Washington. 1922.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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George Ray. Served 10 years for manslaughter. Nebraska State Penitentiary. Circa 1890s.History Nebraska
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Goldie Williams. The five-foot tall, 110-pound Williams was defiant upon her arrest for vagrancy. Williams reported her hometown as Chicago and her occupation as a prostitute. Omaha, Nebraska. 1898.History Nebraska
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Guillaume Joseph Robillard. Anarchist photographed by Alphonse Bertillon. Paris. 1894. Alphonse Bertillon/The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Henri Marc Julien Birilay. Anarchist photographed by Alphonse Bertillon. Paris. 1894. Alphonse Bertillon/The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Herbert Cockran. A tailor from Fairmont, Nebraska. Arrested for burglary. Omaha, Nebraska. 1899.History Nebraska
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Herbert Ellis. Sydney, Australia. Circa 1920.Sydney Living Museums
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Isabella McQue. Charged with the theft of a sealskin coat. North Shields, U.K. 1915.Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums
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Isom White. Convicted of first-degree murder. Snohomish, Washington. 1921.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Jack Cramer. Convicted of second-degree burglary. King, Washington. 1929.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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James Collins. A 23-year-old tailor. Escaped after being arrested for burglary. He was later re-arrested. Omaha, Nebraska. 1897.History Nebraska
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James Dawson. Charged with indecent exposure. North Shields, U.K. 1902.Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr
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James McGuire. Charged with theft. Edinburgh, Scotland. 1906.Edinburgh City Archives
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Jess Poyns. Convicted of robbery. King, Washington. 1928.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Joe Weil. Convicted of bootlegging. Spokane, Washington. 1922.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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John Anglin. One of the only five men to "escape" Alcatraz prison. Whether any of the prisoners survived their escapes remains a mystery, as their bodies have never been found. San Francisco, California. 1960.Media Drum World
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John H Walker. Convicted of second-degree assault. Spokane, Washington. 1914.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Laura Belle Devlin. Murdered and dismembered her 75-year-old husband with a hacksaw, throwing some of him in the wood stove and the rest in their backyard. Newark, Ohio. 1947.Bettmann/Getty Images
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Lewis Powell aka Lewis Payne. Abraham Lincoln assassination conspirator aboard the USS Saugus. 1865.Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images
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Lizzie Cardish. A 15-year-old who was convicted of arson. Leavenworth, Kansas. 1906.Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
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Mabel Smith. Arrested for larceny. North Shields, U.K. 1903.Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr
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Maud Johnson. Convicted of obtaining money by false pretenses. Clarke, Washington. 1910.Washington State Archives, Digital Archives
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Nellie Cameron. One of Sydney's best-known — and most desired — prostitutes. Sydney, Australia. 1930.Sydney Living Museums
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William Stanley Moore. Charged with opium dealing. Sydney, Australia. 1925.Sydney Living Museums
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Susan Joice. Charged with larceny for stealing money from a gas meter.
North Shields, U.K. 1903.Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums/Flickr
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H. McGuinness. Sydney, Australia. 1929. Sydney Living Museums
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Valerie Lowe. Arrested for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and overcoats. New South Wales. 1922.Sydney Living Museums
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Walter Smith. Charged with breaking and entering. New South Wales. 1924.Sydney Living Museums
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Anonymous mugshot showing an innovative technique to capture profiles and facing photos in a single shot. Date and location unknown.Mark Michaelson
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Amy Lee. Described in court as a "good looking girl until she fell victim to the foul practice" of snorting cocaine. New South Wales. 1930.Sydney Living Museums
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Alice Fisher. Convicted of larceny. Long Bay, New South Wales. 1919.Sydney Living Museums
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Albert Johnson. Convicted of grand larceny. Nebraska. 1885.Nebraska State Historical Society
These Colorized Mugshots Show Criminals From The Past As They Really Were
Mugshots have been a powerful police tool — and a source of public fascination — for more than a century. In fact, they trace their origins back to 19th-century Paris.
Louis Daguerre invented the first publicly available photographic process in 1839. Almost immediately, police officers found photography useful when it came to tracking down criminals. Evidence of this early practice goes back as far as the 1840s in Belgium.
However, it was another Frenchman — Alphonse Bertillon — who invented the mugshot some 50 years later and created a system that would eventually be adopted by police departments all around the world.
The Bertillon Method
Alphonse Bertillon/The Metropolitan Museum of ArtAugustin Dupuis, an anarchist photographed by Alphonse Bertillon. 1894.
Bertillon was an unlikely trailblazer. While both his father and brother were expert statisticians, Bertillon himself was very much a black sheep.
Expelled from the Imperial Lycée of Versailles, Bertillon spent four years in the French army before securing a low-level position in the Parisian police. In 1879, as a police clerk, he grew frustrated with the department's ad hoc methods of identifying and documenting criminals and suspects.
Paris was in the middle of a crime surge, and in Bertillon's view, the police's skills weren't up to snuff. So he developed what came to be known as the Bertillon System of documenting and organizing criminals and suspects.
According to the system, the police would measure a suspect's head length, head breadth, the length of the middle finger, the length of the left foot, and the length of the "cubit," or the forearm from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger.
The idea was that each person's combination of measurements would be more or less unique. It served as a sort of "fingerprint" in an era before actual fingerprinting was a common police practice.
The mugshot — one photo of the subject facing the camera and one taken in profile — was perhaps the most important element of the system.
Before long, the system showed success — so it was implemented all across France. In 1883, Bertillon identified 49 repeat offenders. And by 1884, that number increased to 241. Unsurprisingly, the Bertillon System in France earned him major praise. By 1888, he became the chief of France's newly-established Department of Judicial Identity.
"It was an age of science, and some thought of the mug shot as a useful component in 'scientific law enforcement.' Indeed, there are surviving efforts by police departments to superimpose photographs of certain types of criminals on top of one another. We could then, theoretically, have distilled images of, to note only two of many possibilities, the typical pickpocket or typical forger."
The Bertillon System was far from perfect — and some of Bertillon's investigations did fail. And it didn't take long for most of the system to be overtaken by the modern-day practice of fingerprinting. However, the mugshot still prevails today.
The mugshot was already a standard procedure for police departments worldwide by the 20th century. But it wasn't until the 1970s and 1980s that they started regularly being printed in color.