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Mug shot of Greta Massey, 26 January 1923, Central cells.
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Mug shot of Greta Massey, 26 January 1923, Central Police Station, Sydney.
New South Wales. Police Dept.
January 1923
Glass plate negative:
Emulsion side:
Special Photograph no. 931. Greta Massey was an energetic impostor, forger and 'hotel barber' whose aliases included the surnames Gordon, Spencer, Crawford, Robins and Simpson as well as 'Nurse Campbell' and 'Nurse Nicholas'. In 1923, representing herself as Dr Grace Norton, recently of South Africa (complete with pith helmet and golf sticks), she passed valueless cheques in a number of leading Sydney hotels.
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."
Published in:
Peter Doyle with Caleb Williams City of shadows: Sydney police photographs 1912-1948 Historic Houses Trust, 2005, pp.163, 175, 234.
Exhibited in:
City of Shadows at the Justice & Police Museum, Sydney, November 2005-January 2007.
Justice & Police Museum ; 160
You may save or print this image for research and study. If you wish to use it for any other purposes, you must contact Sydney Living Museums to request permission.
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