Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 - Nicholas Calcott

I’ve got a big scanning job this week, so I’ll keep it short, but I just wanted to pass on the 3 images you find in this post.  They’re part of a larger archive of found photographs, collected here in Paris that are actually what I’m in the process of digitizing.  And I probably shouldn’t pass this on, but they’re just so cool.

I’m sure you all have seen plenty of mugshots, so this won’t be too revealing…  But check out the text on the back of the images (reproduced below each photograph – click for full size images).  It’s really fascinating.  I especially like the descriptions of tattoos, none of which are visible in the actual photographs, but reveal a world apart from that reproduced by photography.  My mind is going wild imagining into being what these tattoos could look like beneath the dark jackets and pin striped suits.


  • Pete Brook
  • Nick. Whoooa! These are really cool. Washington State Reformatory is the prison in which I volunteer teach. It’s in Monroe about 40 minutes from Seattle.

    In fact, tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the institution. It is the second oldest prison in Washington.

    I’m going to be badgering you for follow ups and delivery of an awesome project to the wider web world!

    I wonder how the mugshots got to Paris?

  • Nicholas Calcott
  • Weird coincidence – I figured these would be of interest to you, Pete, but I never made the connection to the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe.

    As far as the broader collection, the rest of the work isn’t mugshots, but rather a much broader collection of other found photos. I’m going to do my best to get the project out, but as I said in the post, I probably shouldn’t even have posted these as I’m not even sure how public they want the work to be.

    As far as how they got to Paris, your guess is as good as mine, though I imagine these were widely handed out at the time, and they’ve probably made their way all over the place. I love also that the text is handwritten on the back of two of them – I guess, though, that this was common enough, or widely distributed enough, to necessitate actually printing on the back of the cards..