Mug shot of Nancy Cowman, 21 February 1924, probably Central Police Station, Sydney.
Special Photograph no. 1098. Nancy Cowman, 19, and Vera Crichton, 23, are listed in the NSW Police Gazette 24 March 1924 as charged, along with three others, with "conspiring together to procure a miscarriage" on a third woman. Cowman (alias Divvers, alias Denvers) was eventually acquitted. Crichton was "bound over to appear for sentence if called upon within three years."
This picture is one of a series of around 2500 "special photographs" taken by New South Wales Police Department photographers between 1910 and 1930. These "special photographs" were mostly taken in the cells at the Central Police Station, Sydney and are, as curator Peter Doyle explains, of "men and women recently plucked from the street, often still animated by the dramas surrounding their apprehension". Doyle suggests that, compared with the subjects of prison mug shots, "the subjects of the Special Photographs seem to have been allowed - perhaps invited - to position and compose themselves for the camera as they liked. Their photographic identity thus seems constructed out of a potent alchemy of inborn disposition, personal history, learned habits and idiosyncrasies, chosen personal style (haircut, clothing, accessories) and physical characteristics."