Don’t hide your face, Ms Rolfe

Emma Rolfe's 1920s mug shot

NSW Police Forensic Photography Archive, Justice and Police Museum, Sydney Living Museums.

We want to have a good look at you Emma—we’ve got a sneaking suspicion that you could be a long lost relative of our beloved CEO, Michael Rolfe!

You’re looking just fine in your fancy frock with buttons and bows and lace on your hat, so you can imagine what a surprise it was to see you here in the City of Shadows exhibition along with the thugs and gangsters and the likes of Tilly Devine.

So tell us dear Emma, why are you here and what have you done?

We've got a sneaking suspicion that you could be a long lost relative of our beloved CEO, Michael Rolfe!

Now we know the Police photographer let his bunch of unruly villains and scammers and con men alike, choose their own pose in front of his camera so they would reveal much of their criminal mind to the lens. But you’re refusing to look at us and you’re fretful and worried and although he’s marked your mugshot with the date of your arrest we’re fresh out of clues.

We’ve closely examined your photo you see and we know from the absence of that capital ‘D’ – that telltale letter that marks you for Drugs, that neither cocaine nor chloral hydrate was your downfall.

So what was it Emma? It’s time to fess up and tell all.


Emma Rolfe’s criminal record reveals she was also known by the names of May Mulholland, Sybil White, Jean Harris and Eileen Mulholland. She had a penchant for shoplifting and a taste for silk blouses, kimonos and scarves gaining numerous convictions for theft from 1919 to 1920. By 1934 she is well known in the city for stealing valuable furs and silks from departments stores.

If you think you may have a wayward relative or colourful Sydney-sider in your history, get along to the City of Shadows exhibition at the Justice and Police Museum to have a look at the show.

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