Crime and Punishment in the 19th - 20th Centuries

Created on Jul 12, 2017 by Kathy Pinna
Discover photos of U.S. citizens who committed crimes in the 1800's and early 1900's. Most of the crimes for which they were arrested are very different from current offenses - selling liquor (for which you could be imprisoned for life), anarchy, fighting for women's rights, pickpocketing, train robbing - and at least one is still rampant today: murder. There's even a photo of the first documented serial murderer in the United States. You can click on any of the photos to read more about the people and their crimes.

Note: Some of these mug shots may seem to be of the dead. They aren't - they had been beaten while or after being arrested. We've identified the two photos taken of actually dead outlaws. It was common practice in earlier times to take photos of dead outlaws.

Crime and Punishment in the 19th - 20th Centuries

The first modern serial killer was a capitalist...

Possibly up to 27 people were the victims of the first documented serial killer Dr. Henry Howard Holmes from Chicago. He not only had a custom torture chamber in his building, but also sold the skeletons of his victims for a healthy sum of money to various medical practices. Read more about Dr. H. H. Holmes

Dr. H. H. Holmes

Chain gang prisoners and guards
Chain Gang in Georgia

Delaware, 1905

Delaware Prison

They still used whips and stocks.

J.B. Black, "bogus checks"

J. B. Black,  Forger 1902

No, he's not dead!

Taking a mug shot

Prisoner Mug Shot

In 1906 New York City


Adam Worth, "Master Criminal"

Adam Worth, Master Criminal  1900

Click on the photo to read about this "Napoleon of the criminal world"

Mary Moriarity, pickpocket

Mary Moriarty, 1895

AKA "Kitty the Welch woman"

Back to Top