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“Photographing Criminals.”

On May 4, 1886, in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, a bomb exploded during a labor demonstration protesting the police shootings of four striking workers. In response, the government and business groups nationwide strengthened the police and the military in an effort to curb labor militancy and public disorder. As part of its coverage of the Haymarket incident, one newspaper displayed this scene from Chicago’s police headquarters, showing the construction of a criminal identification system based on photographs. The “Rogues’ Gallery” served as an archive to identify individual criminals (including political dissenters and labor activists) and to discern, according to contemporary scientific beliefs, what “physiognomic” traits (such as skull shape and facial characteristics) indicated innate criminal tendencies.

Source: Charles Upham, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 31, 1886—American Social History Project.