25 October – 1 December 2017
General Register House, Matheson Dome
Thieves, confidence tricksters, pickpockets and more… Our new exhibition of photographs and criminal records from the Victorian and Edwardian eras will bring you face-to-face with Scotland’s criminal past.
National Records of Scotland will display previously unseen mug shot albums alongside official trial records as part of Rogues Gallery: Faces of Crime 1870-1917, a free exhibition in partnership with Edinburgh City Archives.
Revealing fascinating personal details about criminals, their victims and the society that produced them, Rogues Gallery demonstrates how much we can learn about people of the past from criminal records and provides an insight into the development of policing and detection methods in Scotland.
On display for the first time: case papers from the trial of infamous poisoner Eugène Chantrelle. Purportedly the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s character Dr Jekyll, Chantrelle was tried for the murder of his wife, Elizabeth, in 1878. A selection of the trial records will be exhibited, including a transcript of one Elizabeth’s letters, the volume of precognitions, Chantrelle’s declaration and detailed plans of their flat on George Street, Edinburgh.
The exhibition also includes a snapshot of the development of photography, as police and their forensic assistants began to realise its potential to record crime scenes and other physical evidence including the footprints that helped to convict serial housebreaker John Aitken Swanston in 1909.
Rogues Gallery runs from 25 October – 1 December 2017 in the Matheson Dome, General Register House, Edinburgh. Admission is free.
To accompany the exhibition, you can also attend a series of free talks on the history of photography; how criminals used photos; how historical research informs creative writing and much more.