Photography led to the invention of mugshots, and particularly interesting are mugshots that simultaneously captured the accused's image from front and side angles. The Yuma (Arizona) Territorial Prison State Historic Park has some on display if you visit in person, and in looking for something suitably Halloweenish for this website I stumbled across this online exhibit from my birthplace, Fall River, MA. The Fall River Historical Society's Mug Shot Online Exhibit has 28 of these images, all dated 1912. Fall River's employment was mainly at the spinning mills and there was a significant immigrant population of Irish and French Canadians. Most of these people, based on surnames, were probably immigrants or children of immigrants and that proved to be the case for the few I checked on the NEHGS website. Of interest to genealogists is the biographical information, about height, weight, date of birth, and occupation. Based on occupation they were not at the top of the socioeconomic ladder and "larceny" is the most common crime noted here, but note the one person charged with adultery. Moral of the story: don't forget to look for your ancestor in police and prison records. Things that are not illegal now may have been then (home brewing, for example, of which one of my Irish immigrant ancestors was convicted) and your person might have her or his picture on display.
Dr. Maura Mackowski is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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- Fuller, Edward
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