And if you liked this post, be sure to check out these popular posts:
1 of 56
Ruby Fox (right) and Myrtle Hetrick (left) were convicted of "escaping from custody" after they broke out of Nebraska's Reformatory for Women in York. Fox was serving time for breaking and entering while Myrtle for vagrancy.
With the aid of an unnamed man, the two fled Nebraska in an automobile but were later captured in Wyoming. After their arrest, both requested to go to the Nebraska State Prison instead of returning to the woman's reformatory.History Nebraska
2 of 56
Jennie Lester was arrested in March 1914 in Nebraska's Phelps County for enticing to illicit intercourse.
She was sentenced to 1-3 years in the Nebraska State Prison.History Nebraska
3 of 56
Unidentified female convict smiling as her mugshot was taken in 1943.
According to author and researcher Mark Michaelson, missing dates for old mugshot photos can sometimes be estimated based on the clothes the subjects were wearing. Mark Michaelson/Flickr
4 of 56
Edith Towel was arrested multiple times, usually on charges of petty theft.
Her last crime (or at least her last booking on police records) was in 1897 for stealing apparel and a watch.
Greater Manchester Police/Flickr
5 of 56
Helen Jarabek was a repeat offender having been arrested before for petty theft.
This time, Jarabek was booked in Boston after leading police on a foot chase through the city. She was arrested on two counts of larceny. One count was for stealing a purse from a woman in a department store and the other was for shoplifting hosiery.Shayne Davidson/CapturedandExposed.com
6 of 56
Lora Hawk, 18. The charges of her arrest written in the police ledger from the Vancouver police department are not legible but it does state that Hawk was arrested on Halloween in 1919.Vancouver Police Department/Washington State Digital Archives
7 of 56
Lulu Williams was arrested and brought into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in 1896. Details of her arrest are unknown.
Incomplete records for many mugshots that date back to the 1800s like Williams' is common since they occurred so long ago when methods of record keeping were still inefficient.Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department/Indianapolis Public Library
8 of 56
Mary Shannon was sentenced to two years in the Nebraska State Prison for mayhem in May 1925.
It's unclear what exactly her crimes were but the legal definition of mayhem is "the criminal act of disabling, disfiguring, or cutting off or making useless one of the members (leg, arm, hand, foot, eye) of another either intentionally or in a fight, called maiming." History Nebraska
9 of 56
Sarah McDonald, 22, was arrested during a murder investigation involving the discovery of a baby's corpse inside a suitcase behind a house in a wealthy neighborhood in Providence, Rhode Island.
After McDonald was arrested, she claimed that the 11-month-old had died of natural causes but an autopsy revealed the baby had been beaten to death. She was charged for her baby's murder and sent to jail. Some later speculated that McDonald dumped the baby in the yard of a rich family who she used to work for because she had gotten pregnant by one of the family's sons.Shayne Davidson/CapturedandExposed.com
10 of 56
Sybel Wolfe, 23, was arrested for grand larceny on April 12, 1911.
According to police records, she gave birth in the Clark County jail six days after her sentencing. Wolfe was later pardoned by the Washington governor for her crime and sent home to Iowa. Vancouver Police Department/Washington State Digital Archives
11 of 56
Lola Lopez was arrested after her partner Cicerio Estrada robbed and killed a man in the Null Rooming House of Sidney, Nebraska, on Jan. 9, 1922.
The partners in crime fled the scene but were later discovered in Colorado. During trial, through an interpreter, the Mexican-born Lopez pleaded not guilty but admitted that she knew of the murder. She served two years, two months, and 22 days.History Nebraska
12 of 56
Eugenia Falleni, aka Harry Crawford, was 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. Long Bay, New South Wales. 1920.Sydney Living Museums
13 of 56
Clotilde Adnet, 19, was arrested as an anarchist in Paris.
Her mugshot is dated sometime around 1894.Metropolitan Museum of Art
14 of 56
Amy Lee was described in court as a "good looking girl until she fell victim to the foul practice" of snorting cocaine. She was booked in 1930 in New South Wales, Australia.Sydney Living Museums
15 of 56
Laura Belle Devlin was arrested in 1947 after she murdered and dismembered her 75-year-old husband with a hacksaw, throwing some of his body parts in the wood stove and the rest in their backyard in Newark, Ohio.
Devlin was cooperative during police questioning, admitting that she had beaten her husband after he threw a dish at her. She initially refused to take off her stocking cap for her mugshot as her "hair was a mess."Bettmann/Getty Images
16 of 56
Emily Hemsworth, 24, killed her three-week-old son but could not remember any details of the murder. In 1925, she was found not guilty due to insanity.Sydney Living Museums
17 of 56
Jeanne Malpet, 51, was arrested as an anarchist in Paris in 1894.Metropolitan Museum of Art
18 of 56
In 1923, Clara Randall reported to New South Wales police that her flat had been broken into and a quantity of jewelry stolen. It was later discovered she had pawned the jewelry for cash. Sydney Living Museums
19 of 56
Catherine Flynn, 34, was sentenced to six months in about 1871 in Newcastle, England, for stealing money. twm_news/Flickr
20 of 56
Kathleen Ward had convictions for drunkenness, indecent language, and theft. She obviously enjoyed thumbing her nose at the authorities, as she deliberately fluttered her eyes to ruin this long-exposure mugshot.
She was arrested in New South Wales in 1925.Sydney Living Museums
21 of 56
Appoline Minna, 19, was arrested for conspiracy in Paris in 1894.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
22 of 56
Dorothy Mort, 32, was convicted of murdering her lover, a young doctor named Claude Tozer, in 1921.Sydney Living Museums
23 of 56
Teenager Annie Gunderson was charged with stealing a fur coat from a Sydney-based department store in 1922.Sydney Living Museums
24 of 56
Mattie Brown was sent to the Nebraska State Prison on Sept. 25, 1917, for larceny from a person in Douglas County. "Larceny of a person" was often the legal term to describe pick-pocketing. She spent a year there. History Nebraska
25 of 56
Isabella McQue was arrested for stealing a sealskin coat in North Shields, England, in 1915.twm_news/Flickr
26 of 56
Alice Adeline Cooke of New South Wales, Australia, was convicted of bigamy and theft in 1922.
Sydney Living Museums
27 of 56
Caroline Clotilde, 43, was arrested as an anarchist in Paris in 1894.Metropolitan Museum of Art
28 of 56
Valerie Lowe was arrested for breaking into an army warehouse and stealing boots and overcoats, among other theft charges in 1922 in New South Wales.Sydney Living Museums
29 of 56
Helen Sullivan, 21, was arrested for "joy riding on public highway" and spent 90 days in the Clark County jail in Washington. Vancouver Police Department/Washington State Digital Archives
30 of 56
Alice Fisher, 41, served two consecutive sentences of four months for larceny in Australia's New South Wales in 1919.Sydney Living Museums
31 of 56
Nellie Cameron, 21, used to be one of Sydney's best-known and most desired prostitutes.
She was arrested in 1930.Sydney Living Museums
32 of 56
Lillian Tibbs was arrested for stealing in North Shields, England in 1914.twm_news/Flickr
33 of 56
Elizabeth Singleton had multiple convictions for soliciting and was described in police records as a "common prostitute."
This was from her arrest in 1927.Sydney Living Museums
34 of 56
Eliza Wright, 23, was arrested on Dec. 17, 1909, for false pretenses (obtaining money or goods by deception).
Needless to say Wright spent her Christmas and New Year's behind bars.
Greater Manchester Police/Flickr
35 of 56
Alice Clarke, 42, was convicted of selling liquor without a license from a private residence in 1916 in New South Wales.Sydney Living Museums
36 of 56
Mary Brewis was arrested for larceny of coal in 1908 in North Shields, England.twm_news/Flickr
37 of 56
Peggy Hudson and her husband did time after they robbed her former employer.
As Los Angeles restaurant owner Charles Anderson told police, "I didn’t get a good look at her face, but I saw her legs, and I could pick them out any time." Anderson claimed the legs he saw during his mugging belonged to Nora Hudson, better known as Peggy, who had worked as a cashier for his eatery. The couple was arrested in 1928 for making away with $382 of cash from Anderson's restaurant profits.
38 of 56
Catherine O'Neill was arrested in New York for an unspecified crime in 1906.Library of Congress
39 of 56
Esther Eggers, 22, was charged with malicious injury to property and wounding a police officer with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
She was arrested in 1919 in New South Wales, Australia.Sydney Living Museums
40 of 56
Edith Ashton was a backyard abortionist who also dabbled in theft and fencing stolen goods. She was arrested in New South Wales, Australia, in 1929.Sydney Living Museums
41 of 56
Eileen May O’Connor, 17, was arrested for stealing a wallet in 1927 in New South Wales, Australia.Sydney Living Museums
42 of 56
Annette Soubrier, 28, was arrested as an anarchist in Paris in 1894.Metropolitan Museum of Art
43 of 56
Ellen Healey was arrested for stealing a pair of boots. in 1908 in North Shields, England.twm_news/Flickr
44 of 56
Elizabeth Ruddy, a career criminal, was convicted on theft charges in 1915 in Australia.Sydney Living Museums
45 of 56
Jane Cartner, 22, stole a silver watch and was sentenced to six months in jail around 1871 in Newcastle, England.twm_news/Flickr
46 of 56
Janet Borland teamed up with car thief Clarence Campbell whom she had just met before her arrest. in 1936.
After the two fled in a Chrysler Coupé they stole, police tracked them to the home of Borland's friend in Ellwood City. Police arrested Borland and booked her into jail in New Castle, Pennsylvania.Angus Mcdiarmid/Flickr
47 of 56
Maud Johnson was arrested in 1910 for an unspecified crime. After she was pardoned by the Washington governor in 1912, Johnson violated her parole four months later. The Vancouver police posted a $50 reward for her capture.Vancouver Police Department/Washington State Digital Archives
48 of 56
In November 1904, Fay Buck was arrested in San Francisco for stealing clothes and furs valued at $540 (more than $15,000 in today's currency rate) from her landlady, Rose Decker who ran a "sporting house" in the city's seed Tenderloin district.
Buck testified she had been lured into Decker's "house of ill-repute" and that she stole the clothes to sell them and escape from a "life of shame."Shayne Davidson/CapturedandExposed.com
49 of 56
Phyllis Carmier stabbed her "bludger" or pimp to death during a violent altercation.
Her case attracted much sympathy in the media, who labeled her crime a justifiable homicide. She was booked in New South Wales in 1921.Sydney Living Museums
50 of 56
Mary Rubina Brownlee was convicted of unlawfully using an instrument to procure a miscarriage.
In 1923, she was sentenced to 12 months of light labor but her male accomplice was acquitted. Sydney Living Museums
51 of 56
Maud M. Garmey, arrested for theft in North Shields, England. 1905.twm_news/Flickr
52 of 56
Elizabeth Cross, arrested for larceny. North Shields, England. 1906.twm_news/Flickr
53 of 56
Elizabeth M. Cambettie, arrested for stealing a skirt. North Shields, England. 1906. twm_news/Flickr
54 of 56
Susan Joice, stole money from a gas meter. North Shields, England. 1903.twm_news/Flickr
55 of 56
Mabel Smith, arrested for larceny. North Shields, England. 1903.twm_news/Flickr
55 Vintage Mugshots That Prove They Don’t Make Female Criminals Like They Used To
They range from fresh-faced teenagers to hardened old women who have lived through hell. Their appearances range from dirty and disheveled to Sunday best. And the charges leveled against them range from petty theft to murder and dismemberment.
But as diverse as these vintage mugshots of accused female criminals are, all of these photos paint a different image of how we so often imagine ladies of the early 1900s: prim and proper. There were, of course, rough-and-tumble criminals back then just as there are today. And the mugshots above are certainly a testament to that.
The Origins Of Mugshots
Corbis via Getty ImagesA police officer takes a mugshot of a suspect at New York Police Headquarters in 1908.
What's more, these mugshots reveal how little has changed over the course of the mugshot's long history, which dates back almost as far as the beginning of photography itself.
During the 1840s, when it was still a new technology, police departments displayed daguerreotype portraits of potential "rogues" or suspects. The nature of long-exposure photography meant that often several people needed to hold down the suspects in order to get the photo.
The department then displayed the likenesses so that the patrolmen could familiarize themselves with the suspects.
Angus Mcdiarmid/FlickrLoyes Langdoff, 42, arrested on charges of drunk and disorderly conduct on March 2, 1940.
"There cannot be the slightest doubt but that it will prove an important medium in the prevention and detection of crime," court officer Frederick Smyth wrote in the book's introduction.
In 1888, Alphonse Bertillon created the modern mugshot, which included two images: one in profile and one from the front. This practice also involved specific body measurements and together the technique constituted the "Bertillon System." Bertillon's system appeared at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and spread like wildfire to the biggest cities in America.
Taken not long after that point, the vintage mugshots of female criminals above provide a fascinating look at how these types of photos looked more than a century ago.
The Incarceration Of Women
Gamma-Keystone via Getty ImagesMitzi Downs smokes in a Long Island jail for refusing to testify against her husband, who was accused of murder in 1932.
During the early 19th century, women being jailed was still rare, which meant few institutions had exclusive quarters for women like they do now.
In New York's Auburn Prison, which pioneered the individual cell-style of modern incarceration, the men were held in separate cells at night and endured silent labor during the day. The women, meanwhile, were placed in an attic and excluded from regular exercise and work.
The neglect of women prisoners led to horrendous living conditions, more so than the men. As one chaplain at Auburn Prison wrote, "To be a male convict in this prison would be quite tolerable; but to be a female convict, for any protracted period, would be worse than death."
Ingrained sexism of the time portrayed women prisoners as great sinners who were impossible to reform. They had violated the traditional rules of womanhood, which made them worse than male criminals and, therefore, unworthy of dignified treatment.
At New York's Mount Pleasant Female Prison — the first in the country — inmates were kept in overcrowded and unlivable conditions. They were routinely abused with gagging and straitjackets.
Mark Michaelson/FlickrRare happy mugshot of an unidentified woman booked in 1945.
The idea of irreversible moral depravity of women prisoners persisted into the 20th century. Prisons used bizarre reform tactics based on antiquated notions of gender. The Reformatory Prison for Women of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, for example, used the bond between women and their children as a "natural incentive" for reformation.
Instead of the manual labor tasks that male prisoners were typically subjected to, female inmates were expected to perform domestic chores like sewing and cooking in the hopes that re-familiarizing them with womanly household duties would somehow negate their criminal tendencies.
The Most Notorious Women Criminals
Vancouver Police Department/Washington State Digital ArchivesElizabeth Zuisti, 22, was arrested in 1918 for vagrancy.
Just like their male counterparts, female criminals have been locked up for all kinds of bizarre crimes — from joy riding and vandalism to robbery and murder.
"You need to look into your victim's trusting eyes day after day as you slowly snuff out their life," she states. "You have to play the role of nurse or parent or lover while you sustain your murderous intent at a pitch that would be unbearable for many of those who've shot a gun or swung a sword. You've got to mop up your victim's vomit and act sympathetic when they beg for water."
Lizzie Borden was perhaps considered one of the first famous female suspects of the 19th century. She made headlines in 1892 after her parents' bodies were found brutally slain in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. Borden was arrested and tried for the double homicide but later acquitted. Nevertheless, many suspected that it was indeed Borden who had done it.
In the 20th century, Laura Belle Devlin was one of the most infamous female faces seen on mugshots. She was arrested in 1947 after she murdered and dismembered her 75-year-old husband with a hacksaw, throwing some of his body parts in the stove and the rest in their backyard in Newark, Ohio.
Greater Manchester Police/FlickrMargaret Kerrigan was arrested by Manchester police in England for stealing clothes in 1908.
Devlin was cooperative during police questioning, admitting that she had beaten her husband after he threw a dish at her. She initially refused to take off her stocking cap for her mugshot as her "hair was a mess."
Borden's infamy is partially exacerbated by the common myth at the time that women weren't capable of killing. And so when they did, it sent shockwaves amid the public more so than murders committed by men.
In earlier centuries, women were most likely to be reprimanded for infractions related to moral depravity, like prostitution or adultery. As attitudes toward male and female criminals have shifted in the 21st century, women with horrendous criminal records have become less of a surprise to society.
Take serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who began murdering and robbing her male clients. Her gruesome rampage struck a nerve so deep that her story was adapted into the 2003 film Monster.
Wuornos was eventually arrested and given the death penalty by execution in 2002. Her only request? That her last meal be a simple black cup of coffee.
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.