Even for the wealthy, having a portrait made in the 1840s was a rare, costly event that called for perfect dress and impeccable grooming. But as technology evolved, pictures became less and less expensive to produce. By the late 1850s, people from all social classes who had never before been in front of a camera suddenly were—but not all of them were happy about it.
The St. Louis Police Department’s photographic rogues’ gallery, used to help identify people suspected of committing crimes, was the first of its kind in America. These images, taken from 1857 to 1867, have been housed in the Missouri History Museum’s Library and Research Center for more than half a century, and they are now gathered for the first time in an interactive eBook. The Missouri History Museum Press’s newest title, Captured and Exposed: The First Police Rogues’ Gallery in America, brings together nearly 200 of these photographs throughout its more than 300 pages. Readers can zoom in on the portraits’ tiniest details while examining the similarities and differences among the photos.
Captured and Exposed even goes a step further, chronicling the dozens of human stories behind the haunted eyes, direct expressions, and disguise attempts. Author Shayne Davidson scoured newspapers, federal censuses, and court and prison records to track down information about the accused, their crime, and their fate. Even when the paths went cold the photographs themselves speak volumes, providing fascinating glimpses of the everyday St. Louisans—guilty and innocent—who populated a booming city on the edge of a young United States.
Almost 100 years after the rogues’ gallery debuted in St. Louis, Shayne Davidson began her life’s journey in that great city. Many of her maternal ancestors spent their lives near the St. Louis riverfront. Davidson has a background in medical illustration, photography, and genealogy. She lives with her family in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
238 zoomable color images
ISBN: 978-1-883982-92-8, $9.99, enhanced eBook