Police Mugshots Used To Be Really Badass

We recently found this collection from the Sydney Living Museums via the Historic Houses Trust that contain a plethora of mugshots from the 1920s. And the photos themselves were not only kept in impeccable condition but they also have details such as the person’s name, the crime they committed and more.

But even more awesome is the fact that they’re remarkable looking and significantly better than modern day mugshots where the person takes a frontal photo with a sign and side photos. And, damn, these thespians and thugs sure looked dapper.


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About the Forensic Photography Archive

In 1990 the Historic Houses Trust rescued a remarkable collection of NSW Police forensic photographs from a flooded warehouse in Lidcombe. Created between 1912 and 1964, the archive contains approximately 130,000 glass plate negatives depicting crime scenes, police activities, forensic evidence and mug shots and may be the biggest police photography collection in the southern hemisphere. The Historic Houses Trust has the job of conserving, repackaging, digitising, researching and cataloguing the archives contents, for which original record systems have been lost.

Major exhibitions featuring the archive have travelled widely, including Crime Scene and Femme Fatale and two books have been produced City of Shadows and Crooks Like Us by Peter Doyle. Ongoing discoveries from the archive are regularly displayed within a dedicated in the Archive Gallery at the Justice & Police Museum. The current exhibition is Collision: Misadventure by Motorcar which depicts car crashes and traffic accidents between 1920 and 1960 as well as the changing streets of Sydney, developments in automobiles and the increasing involvement of police in traffic management.

The Historic Houses Trust continues to explore this fascinating archive, attaching stories to events, histories to scenes, and motives to seemingly inexplicable behaviours. More details about the archive and information about upcoming exhibitions can be found on the Historic Houses Trust website hht.net.au. The Justice & Police Museum is open daily 9.30am – 5pm, cnr Albert & Phillip Streets Circular Quay, General $10 | Concession $5 | Family $20, T 02 9252 1144, books available at shop.hht.net.au.

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