The 1875 Linlithgowshire Rogue’s gallery held by the Edinburgh City Archives is a fascinating volume filled with candid portraits of child pick pockets, convicted fraudsters, bands of thieves, unfortunate hawkers and men dressed in women’s clothing. The album contains varying amounts of detail about the lives and criminal histories of many of the photographed individuals.
Before the advent of photography, the identification of criminals was often based on unreliable accounts from eye witnesses. Throughout the mid-nineteenth century, local police forces across the U.K. began to compile scrapbooks or a ‘Rogue’s Gallery’ filled with the photographs and details of offenders and criminals at large. By the late Victorian period, photographs or ‘mug shots’ of arrested individuals were taken or commissioned as part of standard police procedures. Before the introduction of fingerprinting, or the collection of DNA evidence, photographs proved to be an effective means of identifying and apprehending suspects.
Stories and features from the Rogue’s Gallery will be posted on the blog from time to time. To view some selections from the Rogue’s Gallery, browse the gallery below.