During my research for an article on a murder in 1867, I incidentally come across a huge archive containing almost 2,000 mugshots of inmates of the Friesian prison around 1900. When I browse through the old pictures, one after the other long gone prisoner is looking me in the eyes. Often brutal, sometimes with a friendly smile. Some wear names and dates, but most nothing but a number.
Suddenly, prisoner GN0098 appears on my screen. Her picture is lacking name and date. All I can find out is that she was doing time in the women’s prison of Appingedam in Friesland, The Netherlands. Why? What has this young woman, almost a child, done to deserve spending her days between cold prison walls? Has she ever been released and what became of her?
We will probably never know. History swallowed GN0098 without leaving us her name. Neither will we ever know what she was thinking about when she looked into the camera with her dreamy eyes. But that a century later she would look through many computerscreens into the eyes of so many people that were not even born the day she will die, is something she would surely never have believed.