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Thursday 29 June 2017

Mugshots of Australian women criminals from the 1920s

Australia's Justice & Police Museum has released 2,500 photographs of female criminals from the 1920s. The pictures of murderers, bigamists, bootleggers and prostitutes provide a fascnating glimpse into life in Australia in the early 20th Century. We reproduce a small selection of the photos here; to see more, visit the museum's website. <br/>
<b>Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford, criminal record number 499LB, 21 October 1920. Crime: murder. Eugenia Falleni spent most of her life masquerading as a man. In 1913 Falleni married a widow, Annie Birkett, whom she later murdered. The case whipped the public into a frenzy as they clamoured for details of the 'man-woman' murderer. Aged approximately 35. </b>
Australia's Justice & Police Museum has released 2,500 photographs of female criminals from the 1920s. The pictures of murderers, bigamists, bootleggers and prostitutes provide a fascnating glimpse into life in Australia in the early 20th Century. We reproduce a small selection of the photos here; to see more, visit the museum's website.
Eugenia Falleni, alias Harry Crawford, criminal record number 499LB, 21 October 1920. Crime: murder. Eugenia Falleni spent most of her life masquerading as a man. In 1913 Falleni married a widow, Annie Birkett, whom she later murdered. The case whipped the public into a frenzy as they clamoured for details of the 'man-woman' murderer. Aged approximately 35.
Dorothy Mort, criminal record number 773LB, 16 October 1929. Mrs Dorothy Mort was having an affair with dashing young doctor Claude Tozer. On 21 December 1920 Tozer visited Mort's home intending to break off the relationship. Mort shot him dead and then attempted to commit suicide. She was released from gaol shortly after this photograph was taken and disappeared from the public eye.
Annie Gunderson, criminal record number 551LB, 20 September 1922. Charged with stealing a fur coat. Teenager Annie Gunderson, 19, was charged with stealing a fur coat from a Sydney department store called Winn's Limited, in 1922. Police records do not indicate whether the fur she is wearing is the stolen item.
Emily Gertrude Hemsworth, criminal record number 657LB, 14 May 1925. Emily Hemsworth killed her three-week-old son but could not remember any details of the murder. She was found not guilty due to insanity. Hemsworth was to be detained in custody until judged fit to return to society - it is unknown if she was ever released. Aged 24
Alice Adeline Cooke, criminal record number 565LB, 30 December 1922. Convicted of bigamy and theft. By the age of 24 Alice Cooke had amassed an impressive number of aliases and at least two husbands. Described by police as 'rather good looking', Cooke was a habitual thief and a convicted bigamist. Aged 24
Evelyn Courtney, criminal record number 493LB, 3 November 1920. Evelyn Courtney stole a remarkable array of items, ranging from an umbrella to Irish linen napkins. She was a suspect in at least seven different robberies during 1920. Aged 19
Vera Purcell, criminal record number 694LB, 7 September 1926. Vera Purcell led a group of two other teenage girls, aged 14 and 17, who stole a large quantity of clothing from a Darlinghurst house. They were convicted and the younger girls were sent to charitable institutions. Purcell, however, was sentenced to six months with hard labour at the State Reformatory for Women at Long Bay. Charged with: stealing. Aged: 19. DOB: 1901. From: Sydney. Occupation: domestic duties. Criminal associates: Carrie Cadwell (17), Kathleen Costello (14)
Amy Lee, criminal record number 780LB, 30 January 1930. Amy Lee was described in court as a 'good looking girl until she fell victim to the foul practice' of snorting cocaine. Her dry, blotchy skin is testament to the evils of addiction. Aged 41
Ettie Sultana, criminal record number 558LB, 17 November 1922. Prostitute Ettie Sultana worked in northern New South Wales and in the Queensland cities of Brisbane and Toowoomba for most of her career. She had multiple convictions for prostitution, theft, drunkenness, swearing and vagrancy. She was sentenced to six months with hard labour. Charged with: soliciting, attempt to prevent the course of justice, stealing, drunk, obscene expression, common prostitute, vagrancy and drunkenness. DOB: 31/12/1885. From: Singleton. Occupation: domestic duties
Clara Randall, criminal record number 609LB, 12 November 1923. Clara Randall worked as a travelling saleswoman for a jewellery company. She reported to police that her Bondi flat had been broken into and a quantity of jewellery stolen. It was later discovered she had pawned the jewellery for cash. A career criminal, Randall was sentenced to 18 months with light labour. Charged with: uttering, fraudulently converting to her own use jewellery and larceny as a bailee. Aliases: Annie Stewart, Ellen Brunt, Harriet Stewart, Ellen Blunt, Annie Randall, Annie Randal and Grace Gibson. DOB: 1884. From: England. Occupation: domestic duties
Jean Wilson, criminal record number 644LB, 25 September 1924. Jean Wilson had numerous convictions for housebreaking and theft. She preferred stealing jewellery as it could be easily pawned for money. She also robbed her employer. Wilson was charged with larceny, for which she served a 12-month sentence. Charged with: break, enter and steal and larceny. Aged: 23 in 1924? DOB: 1904. From: Wellington, NZ. Occupation: tailoress. Criminal associates: James Britton alias Wynne and Alice Batty
Marjorie Day, criminal record number 655LB, 13 February 1925. Marjorie Day convinced a shopkeeper to let her take two dresses home to show her mother. She promised to return promptly but instead sold the clothes at a second-hand clothing shop. A repeat offender, Day was sentenced to six months in prison. Charged with: stealing, fraudulent conversion and false pretenses. Alias: Elma Walton. Aged: 20. DOB: 11/1/1905. From: Sydney. Occupation: domestic duties
Philomena Mary Best, criminal record number 696LB, 15 March 1927. Philomena Best stole silk and other goods valued at over 36 pounds (about $2000 today) from a Bourke shopkeeper. She was convicted and sentenced to 12 months with light labour. Convicted of larceny. Philomena Best stole sumptuous silk and other items from her employer Namut Khan of Bourke, in north-western New South Wales. Aged 33
Elizabeth Ruddy, criminal record number 165LB, 5 January 1915. Elizabeth Ruddy was a career criminal who was convicted of stealing from the house of one Andrew Foley. She was sentenced to 12 months with hard labour. Charged with: stealing in a dwelling, drunk and stealing. Elizabeth Ruddy inscribed on negative. DOB: 1854, Scotland
Kate Ellick, criminal record number 448LB, 17 February 1919. Kate Ellick had no family to support her and no fixed address. In the early 20th century employment options were limited for women of her age and there was no aged pension. Ellick was homeless when arrested in Newcastle and was sentenced under the Vagrancy Act to three months in prison. Charged with: vagrancy. DOB: 1860, Murrurundi. From: Maitland
Doris Winifred Poole, criminal record number 639LB, 31 July 1924. Doris Poole appeared before the Newtown Police Court charged with stealing jewellery and clothing. She had previously been convicted on a similar charge in North Sydney and so received a six-month sentence with light labour. Charged with: stealing. DOB: 6/6/1903. From: Sydney. Occupation: domestic duties
Ruth Young, criminal record number 596LB, 11 September 1923. Ruth Young had a problem with alcohol and was often homeless. She had multiple convictions for drunkenness, vagrancy and petty theft. Her head was probably shaved upon her entry to prison to eradicate head lice. Charged with: vagrancy and drunk. DOB: 1880. From: Victoria. Occupation: domestic duties
Alice Sandford, criminal record number 661LB, 7 August 1925. Many women, like Alice Sandford, capitalised on laws restricting the sale of alcohol after 6pm by setting up sly-grog shops: premises in which alcohol was sold illegally at exorbitant prices. The details of Sandford's conviction have been lost. Charged with: selling liquor without a licence. DOB: 1889. From: England. Occupation: domestic duties
Elizabeth Singleton, criminal record number 706LB, 27 April 1927. Elizabeth Singleton had multiple convictions for soliciting and was described in police records as a common prostitute. She was imprisoned at Long Bay but the details of her sentence have been lost. Charged with: soliciting, common prostitute and vagrancy. DOB: 9/7/1905. From: Cowper, NSW. Occupation: domestic duties
E. Walker, criminal record number 605LB, 12 November 1923. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, NSW. No information about E. Walker has been found. She may have been a vagrant: her clothes are dirty, she wears what appear to be army boots and her head has been shaved to eradicate head lice

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