Portaits of Prisoners: 1902-1904

19 Feb

These fascinating and poignant images of prisoners, with their crime chalked on the boards which they made required to hold for the photograph. All were all brought before the North Shields Police Court (in the north-east of England) between 1902 and 1904.

By the 1870s, the courts and the Home Offices regarded photographing those who came before the courts as essential. They aimed to assembled detailed records of offenders.

Both police forces and prison authorities began taking photographs of offenders in an organised and structured way. Photos were usually taken before a prisoner was tried as they could then be used to identify offenders who had committed previous crimes.

The offenders pictured were typically people living lives of pressured poverty and harshness. It is poignant to realise that when we look at these photos, we may be gazing at the only photographs ever taken of the individuals portrayed in their whole lifetimes.

The photographs are selected from an album of photographs of prisoners in the collection of Tyne & Wear Archives. The photos are used courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

Alfred Thompson, arrested for larceny on 31st August 1902.

Charlotte Branney, arrested for larceny on 5th January, 1904.

James Dawson, arrested for indecent exposure on 9th June, 1902.

Jane Thompson, also known as Gordon, arrested for theft on 13th July, 1904

Mustapha Irola, arrested for false pretences on August 19th, 1904.

Mary Scott Wilson, arrested for larceny on 14th December, 1903.

Andrea Laudano, arrested for larceny on 21st July, 1904.

Alice Caush, arrested for larceny on 31st October, 1903.

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