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Now online: digitized Sacramento Police mug books from 1860s-1940s | Crime

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Now online: digitized Sacramento Police mug books from 1860s-1940s
Crime
Now online: digitized Sacramento Police mug books from 1860s-1940s

The Center for Sacramento History (CSH) is excited to share a recently completed project: they have digitized 126 Sacramento Police Department (SPD) and Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office mug books and uploaded them to the Internet Archive. 

 

The mug books date from the 1860s to the 1940s, and provide a wealth of data, including arrestees’ photographs, names, physical descriptions, criminal histories, aliases, judgments, and death dates. While most of the books are arranged by arrest number and date, several books are dedicated to specific crimes, including safe-cracking and pickpocketing, and specific categories of people, including political dissidents, union members, juvenile offenders, female offenders, and various ethnic groups. The collection also contains wanted books and mug books from other police departments and prisons that the SPD copied in order to create a criminal card file database, including departments throughout the Bay Area, Southern California, Denver, Portland, Stockton, and Reno, plus San Quentin and Folsom prisons. 

 

To complete this project, CSH worked with the Utah-based nonprofit FamilySearch.org, that digitally photographed the books on-site at the research center in Sacramento over several weeks. Once digitization was complete, a student assistant was hired from California State University, Sacramento’s public history program to create a minimal amount of metadata for each book and upload the images, metadata, and searchable indices to the Internet Archive. With the help of volunteers and crowdsourcing, the hope is CSH will eventually be able to expand the metadata to include information about the people in the books. The final part of this project was to rehouse the books, which range in size from 5’ x 6’ to 11’ x 17”. Previously, the books were housed standing on end in boxes without lids. Now, each book is housed flat in its own acid-free box. 

 

The availability of these books online will allow more researchers to access the material without needing to visit CSH in person or to handle these fragile objects, thus aiding their long-term preservation. Users are able to virtually flip through a book’s pages as though they were flipping through the book itself, and zoom in to see a close-up of the high-resolution images. The newly digitized collection of mug books can be viewed at archive.org/details/cshtext.

 

The Center for Sacramento History educates and enriches the public by collecting, preserving, and making accessible the region’s vast cultural heritage.  Founded in 1953, the Center for Sacramento History is administered by the City of Sacramento and is jointly funded by the City and County of Sacramento. For more information, visit www.centerforsacramentohistory.org.  

 

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