Mugshots are an important part of the criminal justice system. They provide a photographic portrait of criminals taken by the police during the course of an investigation. This photographic record can help law enforcement officials identify suspects, track criminal activity, and build cases against suspects. Mugshots are typically taken during the booking process for an arrest, and they are often accompanied by other booking information, such as the suspect’s name, age, and address. In some cases, mugshots may also include information about the crime for which the suspect was arrested. Mugshots are often used by the media to identify criminals, and they can also be used to track the progress of a criminal case. In some cases, mugshots may be used as evidence in a criminal trial.

Today, it’s easier than ever to lookup mugshots online and learn more about someone’s criminal history and arrest records, but where did it all start? Keep reading to learn more about the history of mugshots.

Origins

The history of mugshots is inextricably linked with the history of photography and policing. Mugshot photography originated in France in the early 1800s, when police began using photographic portraits to identify criminals. In 1839, French police officer Louis Daguerre debuted the world’s first photographic process, the daguerreotype. This new technology quickly spread to law enforcement agencies across Europe, who used it to create “mugshots” of criminals. These early police portraits were often crude and blurry, but they allowed law enforcement to keep a visual record of known criminals.

In the United States, mugshots became popular in the 1870s, when New York City Police Department began using them to identify prostitutes and their customers. By the early 1900s, almost every major city had a mugshot bureau.

Advancements

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, police departments began using newer, more advanced photographic techniques to create mugshots. These newer photographs were often used in wanted posters and newspapers, which helped the public identify criminals. These photos were typically taken in black and white and showed the person’s full face and profile. They were often used as evidence in court proceedings and helped law enforcement officials track down criminals.

The use of color mugshots began in the 1930s. The color mugshots were more accurate and allowed the police to distinguish between different suspects. By the 1940s, most law enforcement agencies were using color mugshots.

 

Public Shaming

In the early days of mugshots, the photos were generally used for identification purposes only and were not made public. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that mugshots began to be used as a form of public shaming. In 1878, the New York Times published a mugshot of a pickpocket named John Slavin. The article was entitled “The Man With the Iron Mask,” and it was the first time that a mugshot had been published in a newspaper.

Publication of mugshots began to increase in the early 1900s. In 1908, the Los Angeles Times published a mugshot of a man named Harry K. Thaw, who had murdered architect Stanford White. The photograph was published on the front page of the newspaper and received a great deal of publicity. Publication of mugshots made it possible for other people to know what a potentially dangerous person looked like and to perhaps avoid them.

 

Digital Photos

The use of mugshots continued to evolve over the years. In the 1990s, the police began to use digital mugshots that could be stored on computers. The digital mugshots were more accurate and allowed the police to store and share the images more easily.

Mugshot Databases

Today, mugshots are widely available online, thanks to websites that collect and publish booking photos from police departments across the country. These websites have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they allow the public to easily search for and view the mugshots of criminals. Some of these websites are run by private companies while others are run by the government. In most cases, anyone can search for mugshots online, regardless of whether they have been arrested or not.

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