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Posts Tagged ‘Mugshots’

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Thanks to Diarmid Mogg for researching the story behind this 1941 mugshot which I bought on eBay several years ago. The following piece appeared in the local newspaper The New Castle News and tells the sorry tale behind the incident:

“Arrest Man In Service Station – Police Apprehend Stranger In W. Washington St. Station Early This Morning 

Policemen Allgler and Price at 12:45 a.m. today arrested Harry L. McCleary alias John McDonald, 21, no permanent address, in a service station at Beaver and West Washington street. He will be charged with burglary before Alderman O.H.P. Green today. Chief of Police W.C. McMullen stated. 

The man visited the station Monday afternoon, inquired as to closing time, entered the lavatory and reportedly fixed a window to permit him to enter the building later. 

After the station closed last night, McCleary assertedly entered it through the window. Police in a cruiser car later noticed the building was not illuminated, as usual. 

They made an inspection, discovered footprints in the snow and also found the window open, They entered the station and report finding McCleary hiding in the greaseroom. 

He had in his possession a flashlight which he found in the station. He admitted, the police assert, to having entered the station to secure whatever money he might find.

He had a pawn ticket in his pocket for an overcoat he claims to have pawned in Pittsburgh. 

McCleary stated that he was born in Washington and that he has a mother residing at Silver Hill, Md.”

Things must have improved for Harry as he lived to the age of 84! He died in Elkin, North Carolina, in 2003. See Diarmid’s Small Town Noir blog for similar stories from New Castle, Pennsylvania.

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Irish-American mugshots


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These mugshots show the downside of the American dream – Irish emigrants who ended up on the wrong side of the law and were arrested for vagrancy or burglary. One of my favourite books is Low Life by Luc Sante which outlines the seedier side of New York between 1840 and 1919. I imagine that the lives led by this trio would be very similar to those described by Sante.

Two of the above mugshots originate from Newcastle, Pennsylvania. This was a boom town from the 1880s until the 1920s with many factories, mills and a railway hub. Diarmid Mogg recreates the stories behind other Newcastle mugshots from the same period.  He has also produced some great screen prints based on them. 

 The New York Public Library holds an early collection of Irish prison photographs. The Larcom albums date from 1857 and 1866 and these powerful portraits show inmates of Mountjoy Jail, Dublin. The later album contains mostly political prisoners. An interesting article by Gail Baylis provides an overview of this collection and discusses how the transfer of such images to digital archives changes their context.

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