These 18 Historic Nebraska Mug Shots Are Hauntingly Beautiful

We’re all familiar with mug shots now, but in the late 19th and early 20th century they were a brand new tool to help identify criminals. The Nebraska State Penitentiary began taking mug shots of everyone arrested beginning in 1867, the same year Nebraska gained statehood. These vintage mug shots, exhibited by the Nebraska State Historical Society, and the fascinating stories that accompany them give a little glimpse into life more than 100 years ago.

These Victorian-era criminals all look so elegant compared to the people we typically see in contemporary mug shots. But crime is crime no matter what the era, and those who were found guilty served their time.