The mo’ behind bars: convicted moustaches at the SRO

Lise Summers Friday, November 8, 2013 - 16:25

Movember is an independent, global charity established to make a difference to the face of men's health.  The challenge is to grow a moustache for the 30 days of November to raise money for and awareness of men's health issues.  It began in Melbourne in 2003 and is now a global phenomenon, raising $140 million AUS last year.  It shows that one simple idea can have a big impact.  Over the next few weeks, we will be exploring several issues related to men's health.

The challenge of the moustache was always going to be one that the female staff at SRO would struggle with (whether growing or removing one !).  This year, we put our thinking caps on as how to best support this great cause, and found it was staring us in the face... moustaches in the archives.

Prisoner 5273, convicted mo', 1902. Sadly, he was later sent to the Lunatic Asylum.The Fremantle Prison prisoner photographs (WAS 681) are one of three collections of photographs currently held in the collection that deal with male prisoners.  Although the photographs were taken in less than perfect conditions, they nevertheless provide us with a unique sociological set of records, depicting hair styles, clothing and demeanour for a period of over 100 years.

Like many institutions these days, the SRO has had its brushes with cancer.  Whether it be staff, their families, or clients, we’ve become aware of the need for research into treatments for cancer and for support for those affected by it. Cancer treatment, particularly radiation therapy, is often expressed in terms of days of treatment, just as prisoners were sentenced to terms of hard labour.  Cancer treatments are physically and emotionally demanding, just as prison must have been for these convicted felons.  Like cancer, prisoners may serve only one term, or they may return time and again, either for the same cause or for another offence.  Movember provides us with an opportunity to raise awareness specifically for prostate cancer through our collection.

By choosing some of the better moustaches depicted in this collection, we hope to raise a smile, and support Movember.

Lise Summers, Senior Archivist