The Naked City | Intl. Notebook Oct 11 2011
CRIMEWAVE
Australian trust uploads vast collection of early twentieth century mugshots.

One of Pulp Intl.’s sharp-eyed readers sent us a link yesterday to a collection of early twentieth century mugshots compiled by Australia-based Historic Houses Trust. The photos are glass plate negatives from New South Wales police stations and were mostly taken between 1920 and 1930. Above you see a typical mugshot, this one of Eugenia Falleni, who was arrested in Sydney in 1920. Her crime is detailed as follows: When Harry Leon Crawford, hotel cleaner of Stanmore, was arrested and charged with wife murder he was revealed to be in fact Eugenia Falleni, a woman and mother, who had been passing as a man since 1899. In 1914, as Harry Crawford, Falleni had married the widow Annie Birkett. Three years later, shortly after she announced to a relative that she had found out “something amazing about Harry,” Birkett disappeared. Crawford told neighbors that she had run off with a plumber. In 1919 Birkett’s young son, who had remained in Crawford’s custody, told an aunt of attempts made on his life by his drunken stepfather. The aunt contacted police. A charred body which had been found in Lane Cove in 1917 was belatedly identified as Birkett’s. Crawford’s astonished second wife, when finally convinced of Falleni’s true gender remarked, “I always wondered why he was so painfully shy...”

More examples with descriptions of the perpetrators’ crimes appear below. You’ll notice the compositions are often quite nice. That’s partly because of the glass plate photography, but also because the subjects were allowed to compose themselves however they pleased. There's more at the Sydney Living Museums website. Because it isn’t very user-friendly, we’ve linked you past the home page and directly to the mugshot archive, but the rest of the site is worth visiting as well.

Vera Purcell, 7 September 1926, aged 25, stole a large quantity of clothing from a house in Darlinghurst and was sentenced to six months hard labor at the State Reformatory for Women at Long Bay.

Mrs. Osborne, circa 1919, details unknown.

Giuseppe Mammone, aka G. Mammona, 15 February 1930, arrested for suspicion of the murder of Domenico Belle. Mammone ran a barbershop in Leichhardt and owed Belle money. Despite police suspicions, Mammone was never charged with the crime.

Albert Sing, 31 March 1922, received stolen goods, including fountain pens, cutlery and clothing, and was sentenced to eighteen months hard labor.

Barbara Turner, aka Tierney, Tiernan, Taylor, Florence Gillespie, Jessi Turner, et. al., 10 October 1921, Central Police Station, Sydney, was a confidence woman who operated widely across Australia and was arrested for defrauding a man named Henry Placings of 106 pounds by borrowing against a forged check. She served a year in prison.

John Walter Ford and Oswald Clive Nash, June 1921, both aged sixteen, were arrested for breaking and entering.

Masterman Thomas Scoringe, 29 November 1922, Central Police Station, Sydney, was a house thief who specialized in robbing the residences of Chinese people.

May Blake, 1 September 1930, Central Police Station, Sydney, charged with cocaine possession and sentenced to one year in jail.

Ruby Furlong, 15 November 1920, State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, arrested for malicious wounding. Furlong was a feared criminal, and during an argument with a Newtown man she pulled a razor and cut his face open. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 24
1938—Chicora Meteor Lands
In the U.S., above Chicora, Pennsylvania, a meteor estimated to have weighed 450 metric tons explodes in the upper atmosphere and scatters fragments across the sky. Only four small pieces are ever discovered, but scientists estimate that the meteor, with an explosive power of about three kilotons of TNT, would have killed everyone for miles around if it had detonated in the city.
June 23
1973—Peter Dinsdale Commits First Arson
A fire at a house in Hull, England, kills a six year old boy and is believed to be an accident until it later is discovered to be a case of arson. It is the first of twenty-six deaths by fire caused over the next seven years by serial-arsonist Peter Dinsdale. Dinsdale is finally captured in 1981, pleads guilty to multiple manslaughter, and is detained indefinitely under Britain's Mental Health Act as a dangerous psychotic.
June 22
1944—G.I. Bill Goes into Effect
U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Servicemen's Readjustment Act into law. Commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or simply G.I. Bill, the grants toward college and vocational education, generous unemployment benefits, and low interest home and business loans the Bill provided to nearly ten million military veterans was one of the largest factors involved in building the vast American middle class of the 1950s and 1960s.
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