Monday, September 23, 2013

City of Shadows: Women

Continuing some of the images from the City of Shadows exhibition at the Police and Justice Museum in Sydney.  Today's images are of women, details being included where known.  Btw, my wife Kate reminded me that a comment was made by Peter Doyle in his film at the exhibition that this was the first time in their lives that many of the people depicted had had their photograph taken.

Rosie Steele was a drug runner for East Sydney cocaine trafficker Harry Newman. She was fined £30 in 1928 after she and another woman were arrested with a number of ‘five shilling sniffs’ in their possession.

Why is there a man's photo in this collection, I imagine you are asking.  Harry Leon Crawford, pictured above, who was charged with the murder of his wife, was in fact Eugeni Falleni, a woman and mother, who had passed as a man since 1899. 

In 1914, as ‘Harry Crawford’, Falleni had married the widow Annie Birkett. Three years later, shortly after she announced to a relative that she had found out ‘something amazing about Harry’, Birkett disappeared. Crawford told neighbours that she had run off with a plumber. In 1919 Birkett’s young son, who had remained in Crawford’s custody, told an aunt of attempts made on his life by his drunken stepfather. The aunt contacted police. A charred body which had been found in Lane Cove in 1917 was belatedly identified as Birkett’s. ‘Crawford’s’ astonished second wife, when finally convinced of Falleni’s true gender remarked:

“I always wondered why he was so painfully shy …”

The photograph shown here shows Falleni in male clothing, probably on the day of her arrest. The negative was found in a paper sleeve inscribed ‘Falleni Man/Woman’. It is also possible that Falleni was made to dress in a man’s suit for the photograph.

The press depicted Falleni as a monster and pervert.  Convicted of murder and sentenced to death, commuted to detainment at the Governor's Pleasure, Falleni was released in 1931 after 11 years.  In 1938 falleni was struck by a car in Oxford Street and died the next day.

Annie Gunderson was charged with stealing a fur coat from a Sydney department store called Winn’s Limited, in 1922. Police records do not indicate whether the fur she is wearing is the stolen item. Aged 19.

Nancy Cowman, 19

Vera Crichton, 23

Nancy Cowman and Vera Crichton, photographed in 1924, were charged, along with three others, with 'conspiring to procure a miscarriage' on a third woman. Cowman (alias Divvers, Denvers,) was eventually acquitted; Crichton was 'bound over to appear for sentence if called upon within three years'. Their three male co-accused received sentences of 12 and 18 months hard labour.''

Matilda “Tilly” Devine, 1925, one of the heads of the Sydney underworld in the 1920’s, being involved in a wide range of activities, including sly-grog, razor gangs and as the madam of Sydney’s brothels. The TV series Underbelly Razor featured her and her ongoing battle with other crime head Kate Leigh. When photographed above in 1925 she had been charged with slashing a man’s face in a barber shop with a razor. She received a two year gaol sentence.

Kate Leigh, 1915

Kate Leigh, 1930

Kate Leigh was also one of the heads of Sydney’s underworld in the 1920’s, s involved in after-hours drinking venues, sly-grog, prostitution, illegal betting, gambling and, from the mid-1920s, cocaine trafficking. She was also one of the main figures of Underbelly Razor.

It wasn’t until the formation of the Scientific Investigation Bureau (SIB) in 1945 that standard procedure was enforced for mug shots. Until then even dance routines were obviously acceptable. Here friends of the missing Rene Flowers, quite probably a vaudeville performer, strike an interesting pose.

“Child unknown found wandering at large”. Mid 1920s, details unknown.

Convicted of selling liquor without a licence. Alice Clarke was an entrepreneur who took advantage of restrictive liquor regulations, which forced pubs to close at 6pm. As a “sly grogger” she sold high-priced alcohol from a private residence. Clarke’s arrest came only weeks after the legislation was introduced. Aged 42

Alice Adeline Cooke, convicted of bigamy and theft.

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