In addition to giving contemporary researchers a plethora of information about criminals and crime, the digitization of 19th-century police and prosecution records yields a trove of extraordinary images.   The usefulness of the nascent art of photography to policing was quickly recognized. The 1840s saw the first photographed "mugshots." By the 1880s, the practice of using photographs as a supplement to written records was widespread in Britain, Europe and the U.S. The standardization of the mugshot is attributed to the brilliant Alphonse Bertillon, better known as the inventor of fingerprint identification.  ¶  Despite their growing standardization, 19th-century mugshots display both variations and artfulness. The metal-edged chalkboards and different hand positions of the images shown at right give each set a commonality that makes the uniqueness of each person photographed more striking and more poignant.  ¶  For me at least, the individuals photographed have an almost painful memorability. The hairpins of Susan Joice and the rather Dickensian looks of Alfred Thompson are somehow searing; I can't help but wonder about the "false pretences" of Sylvester Hulbert and Mustapha Irola and the larceny of Alice Caush and Kate Stobbs.  ¶  The images displayed on the site are drawn from the records of the Dorset History Centre via History Extra and and the Flickr photostreams of Angus McDiarmid and the Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives. ¶  
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