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.
March 25
1957—Ginsberg Poem Seized by Customs
On the basis of alleged obscenity, United States Customs officials seize 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" that had been shipped from a London printer. The poem contained mention of illegal drugs and explicitly referred to sexual practices. A subsequent obscenity trial was brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who ran City Lights Bookstore, the poem's domestic publisher. Nine literary experts testified on the poem's behalf, and Ferlinghetti won the case when a judge decided that the poem was of redeeming social importance.
1975—King Faisal Is Assassinated
King Faisal of Saudi Arabia dies after his nephew Prince Faisal Ibu Musaed shoots him during a royal audience. As King Faisal bent forward to kiss his nephew the Prince pulled out a pistol and shot him under the chin and through the ear. King Faisal died in the hospital after surgery. The prince is later beheaded in the public square in Riyadh.
March 24
1981—Ronnie Biggs Rescued After Kidnapping
Fugitive thief Ronnie Biggs, a British citizen who was a member of the gang that pulled off the Great Train Robbery, is rescued by police in Barbados after being kidnapped. Biggs had been abducted a week earlier from a bar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by members of a British security firm. Upon release he was returned to Brazil and continued to be a fugitive from British justice.
March 23
2011—Elizabeth Taylor Dies
American actress Elizabeth Taylor, whose career began at age 12 when she starred in National Velvet, and who would eventually be nominated for five Academy Awards as best actress and win for Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, dies of congestive heart failure in Los Angeles. During her life she had been hospitalized more than 70 times.
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