1) Ruth Young – Ruth Young had a problem with alcohol and was often homeless. She had multiple convictions for drunkenness, vagrancy and petty theft. Her head was probably shaved upon her entry to prison to eradicate head lice. DOB: 1880. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay. Wales (photo)
2) Ruth Carruthers – 1926 Convicted of false pretenses. Ruth Carruthers went on a criminal spree in 1926, using the art of persuasion to obtain goods and money from hapless shopkeepers. She was eventually convicted on four charges of false pretenses and sentenced to six months at Long Bay. Aged 28. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay. Wales(photo)
3) Philomena Mary Best 1927 – Philomena Best stole silk and other goods valued at over 36 pounds (about $2000 today) from a Bourke shopkeeper. She was convicted and sentenced to 12 months with light labour. Convicted of larceny. Philomena Best stole sumptuous silk and other items from her employer Namut Khan of Bourke, in north-western New South Wales. Aged 33.
4) Pearl McFadden – Pearl McFadden may have been supporting herself by working as a prostitute. Many sex workers were charged with vagrancy and having insufficient means of support, as it was a relatively easy charge to prove. McFadden was sentenced to six months with hard labor. DOB: 1910
5) Patsy Neill – Charged with theft and possession of cocaine. Barmaid Patsy Neill was involved in various criminal activities including theft and selling cocaine. In 1932 she had a disagreement over money with the infamous sly grogger Kate Leigh, which led to Neill being threatened with a gun. Neill was described in the press as ‘looking like a mannequin on parade’. Aged 26.
6) Nellie Cameron – Nellie Cameron was one of Sydney’s best-known, and most desired, prostitutes. Lillian Armfield, Australia’s first policewoman, said Cameron had an ‘assured poise that set her apart from all the other women of the Australian underworld’. Aged 21.
7) Myrtle Lee – Myrtle Lee, described in the media as ‘a well-dressed woman’, stabbed Mary Moon twice at the residence of a Chinese man in Alexandria. The press emphasized the racial nature of the attack with a headline ‘White and Yellow’. Lee was sentenced to six months gaol. Aged 35.
8) May Smith – 1929. May Smith, alias ‘Botany May’, was an infamous drug dealer. She once chased policewoman Lillian Armfield with a red-hot iron to avoid arrest. Smith was sentenced to 10 months with hard labor. DOB: 1880.
9) May Ethel Foster – 1928 – May Foster worked with a male accomplice to break into numerous houses and steal the contents. She had previous convictions for vagrancy, failing to appear in court and receiving stolen goods. She was sentenced to six months with hard labour. Aliases: May Saunders, Hopkins. DOB: 19 September 1901. Criminal associate: Albert Roy Callaway (28).
10) Matilda Devine – 1925 -Matilda ‘Tilly’ Devine used a razor to slash a man’s face in a barber’s shop and was sentenced to two years gaol. She was Sydney’s best-known brothel madam and her public quarrels with sly-grog queen Kate Leigh provided the media with an abundance of material. Aged 25.
11) Mary Rubina Brownlee – 1923 – Convicted of unlawfully using an instrument to procure a miscarriage. Mary Brownlee was a backyard abortionist who was caught during an extensive police investigation. She was sentenced to 12 months light labor, but her male accomplice was acquitted. Aged 64
12) Tasmanian Lillian Sproule – 1928 – became involved in Sydney’s cocaine trade. She was labeled a ‘parasite in skirts’ by the newspapers and had multiple convictions relating to drug dealing. She was sentenced to six months in prison. DOB: 1878.
13) Kathleen Ward 1925- had convictions for drunkenness, indecent language and theft. She obviously enjoyed thumbing her nose at the authorities, as can be seen in this image where she appears to have deliberately fluttered her eyes in order to ruin the long-exposure photograph. DOB: 1904.
15) Janet Wright – 1922 -Convicted of using an instrument to procure a miscarriage. Janet Wright was a former nurse who performed illegal abortions from her house in Kippax Street, Surry Hills. One of her teenage patients almost died after a procedure and Wright was prosecuted and sentenced to 12 months hard labor. Aged 68.
17) Eugenia Falleni spent most of her life masquerading as a man (Harry Crawford). In 1913 Falleni married a widow, Annie Birkett, whom she later murdered. Convicted of murder in 1928, the case whipped the public into a frenzy as they clamored for details of the ‘man-woman’ murderer. Aged approximately 43.
18) Ettie Sultana – prostitute – 1922 -worked in northern New South Wales and in the Queensland cities of Brisbane and Toowoomba for most of her career. She had multiple convictions for prostitution, theft, drunkenness, swearing and vagrancy. She was sentenced to six months with hard labor. DOB: 31 December 1885.
19) Esther Eggers – 1919 – Crime: malicious injury to property and wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm. When a police officer arrived to arrest Esther Eggers for malicious damage she attacked him, causing serious injury. Eggers was sentenced to 12 months prison. Aged 22.
20) Emily Gertrude Hemsworth – 1925 -killed her three-week-old son but could not remember any details of the murder. She was found not guilty due to insanity. Hemsworth was to be detained in custody until judged fit to return to society – it is unknown if she was ever released. Aged 24.
21) Elizabeth Singleton – 1927 – had multiple convictions for soliciting and was described in police records as a ‘common prostitute’. She was imprisoned at Long Bay but the details of her sentence have been lost. DOB: 9 July 1905.
23) Edith Florence Ashton – 1929 -was a backyard abortionist who also dabbled in theft and fencing stolen goods. Described in the media as a ‘social somebody’ and an ‘equestrienne’ she was, however, not adept at performing abortions and was suspected of contributing to the deaths of at least two women. Aged 37.
24) Dorothy Mort – 1921 – Convicted of murder. Mrs. Dorothy Mort was having an affair with dashing young doctor Claude Tozer. On 21 December 1920, Tozer visited her home with the intention of breaking off the relationship. Mort shot him dead before she attempted suicide. Aged 32.
25) Doris Winifred Poole – 1924 – appeared before the Newtown Police Court charged with stealing jewelry and clothing. She had previously been convicted on a similar charge in North Sydney and so received a six-month sentence with light labor. DOB: 6 June 1903.
26) Annie Gunderson – 1922 -Teenager Annie Gunderson was charged with stealing a fur coat from a Sydney department store called Winn’s Limited, in 1922. Police records do not indicate whether the fur she is wearing is the stolen item. Aged 19.
27) Amy Lee – 1930 – Amy Lee was described in court as “a good looking girl” until she fell victim to the foul practice of snorting cocaine. Her dry, blotchy skin is testament to the evils of addiction. Aged 41.
28) Alice Clarke – 1916 -Convicted of selling liquor without a license. Alice Clarke was an entrepreneur who took advantage of restrictive liquor regulations, which forced pubs to close at 6pm. As a “sly grogger” she sold high-priced alcohol from a private residence. Clarke’s arrest came only weeks after the legislation was introduced. Aged 42
29) Alice Adeline Cooke – 1922 was convicted of bigamy and theft. By the age of 24 she had amassed an impressive number of aliases and at least two husbands. She was described by police as “rather good looking.”
30) Muriel Goldsmith – 1915 – Convicted of stealing. Muriel Goldsmith looks like a country schoolteacher but was actually a prolific thief with a string of aliases. She was found guilty of stealing money and jewelry from the Criterion Hotel in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales. Aged 25.
31) Marjorie Day (alias Elma Walton), 1925 criminal record number 655LB, 13 February 1925. State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay. Marjorie Day convinced a shopkeeper to let her take two dresses home to show her mother. She promised to return promptly but instead sold the clothes at a second-hand clothing shop. A repeat offender, Day was sentenced to six months prison. Aged: 20. DOB: 11 January 1905.