Small Town Noir

The blog Small Town Noir tells the stories of people who were arrested in New Castle, Pennsylvania, between 1930 and 1960. Diarmid Mogg became interested in the town and its people when he found some mugshots on eBay, and researched the stories of those people in the local newspaper archives -not just their crime, but their entire lives as well as they can be reconstructed.

Small Town Noir is dedicated to recovering the life stories behind mug shots from the vanished golden age of one American town.

The men and women in these mug shots are nobody special, but they saw things that none of us will ever see. They were all arrested in New Castle, a small town in western Pennsylvania, right over by the Ohio border. It was once one of the most industrially productive cities in America, but all that’s gone now.

Although Mogg is in Scotland, he continues to collect and research the mugshots that the New Castle police threw out some time around 1990. The stories are sparse but fascinating, and the blog as a whole serves to chronicle the history of a declining American town and the everyday people who lived and died there.

The mugshot above is of John Saul, who was arrested in 1957 for disorderly conduct. But the real story came later, when he got involved with holding a woman against her will for the purpose of prostitution, a crime that involved some of the town’s notable politicians. -Thanks, Lisa Menter!

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