Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary Admissions Books (1830 and 1840s) Digitized, Transcribed & Posted

The following teaser is from a posting by Rebecca Onion at

The American Philosophical Society‘s library holds four fascinating admissions books offering details on prisoners held at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary in the 1830s and 1840s. Three of those books seem to have been kept by Thomas Larcombe, a Baptist minister who was the first to hold the position of “moral instructor” at the prison.

It’s a little difficult to read the scanned versions of the books, but Scott Ziegler, of the American Philosophical Society, and Michelle Ziogas have transcribed the information within and made the data available through the University of Pennsylvania’s Magazine of Early American Datasets. Two admission books’ worth of Larcombe’s notes on Eastern State’s prisoners, one dated 1830–1839 and the other 1839–1843 appear here in .csv files

Read the full article.

View the Eastern State Penitentiary Scanned Admissions books by clicking here.

Read the Eastern State Penitentiary spreadsheets by clicking here.

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for the heads-up.

New Crime, Prisons & Punishment Records Available at FindMyPast

The following is from FindMyPast:


To celebrate the release of over 1.9 million new additions to our England and Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment records, this week’s Findmypast Friday highlights some of the fascinating record sets that are now available to search within the collection.

England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935, contains the details of felons who passed through the criminal justice system in England and Wales between 1770 and 1935. The records reveal the exact nature of the crimes they committed, where and when they were tried and the sentence they received. Records can also include physical descriptions, petitions for clemency, reports on behaviour, health and education and photographic mug shots. The details of victims and government officials working within the penal system can also found within the collection.

The new additions are taken from 18 substantial and widely varied record series held by The National Archives at Kew. We will be highlighting a selection of these sets each Findmypast Friday for the duration of our Crime & Punishment month: four weeks of records, guides and stories to help you discover your family’s criminal history. Please note that all 18 sets within the collection are now available to search. The third and final phase of the collection will be released later this year.

England & Wales, Crime, Prisons and Punishment now contains over 3 million transcripts, all accompanied by scanned images of the original documents, and is the largest collection of crime and punishment records available online.

Home Office: Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853
The Home Office: Newgate Prison Calendar 1782-1853 contains almost 339,400 records. The Calendars were taken from printed lists of prisoners to be tried at Newgate, in London. Newgate was one of the historic seven gates of the London Wall around the City of London and has been used as a prison for debtors and felons since at least the 12th century. As well as printed lists of inmates, from July 1822 onwards the records contain manuscript additions giving the results of their trials.

Home Office: Convict Hulks, Convict Prisons and Criminal Lunatic Asylums: Quarterly Returns of Prisoners 1824-1876
Quarterly Returns of Prisoners 1824-1876 contains almost 639,600 records. The records consist of sworn lists of convicts held on board prison hulks between 1824 and 1854 as well as records of prisoners held in convict prisons and criminal lunatic asylums. The returns list the names of individual convicts with particulars as to their ages, convictions and sentences, health and behaviour.

Home Office: Criminal Entry Books 1782-1871
The Home Office: Criminal Entry Books 1782-1871 contain almost 272,950 records consisting of bound copies of letters sent out from the Home Office. They consist of correspondence and warrants of Home Office officials, and friends and relations of convicts. Warrants include pardons, reprieves and transfers of prisoners from one prison to another, or to the army or navy. Each volume also contains an index arranged by type of warrant issued.

Home Office: Old Captions and Transfer Papers 1843-1871
Home Office: Old Captions and Transfer Papers 1843-1871 contains over 3,660. The records contain copies of court orders (‘old captions’) for the imprisonment or transportation of prisoners. These are the papers written up by the trial judge and handed to the policemen who were to take the prisoner away to jail after he was convicted. All the paperwork involved in transferring prisoners is here, with individual documents for transfer between prisons and the records for that prisoner while he was in the gaol. There is a huge amount of detail in these records and it is worth browsing through all the available images to find all the separate documents concerning an individual prisoner. The later records even include a full medical history which is extremely unusual in genealogical records. There are also some records concerning prisoners serving their sentence on prison hulks.

Home Office and Prison Commission: Male Licences 1853-1887
Home Office and Prison Commission: Male Licences 1853-1887 contains almost 36,700 records of male convicts who were granted licences to be at large by the court, in other words, who were allowed out on parole. There are notes of the licences and also notes of revocation of the licence, under the Penal Servitude Acts of 1852 and 1864 endorsed on old captions, or orders of court, and, in some cases, transfer papers. The images include rich details about individual convicts such if their marital status, number of children, the name and address of their next of kin, their profession and a full physical description as well as where they went when they were released. Many records include photographic mug shots located on the last page.

Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: habitual criminals’ registers and miscellaneous papers
Containing the details of over 151,330 individuals, the Metropolitan Police: Criminal Record Office: habitual criminals’ registers and miscellaneous papers consists of registers of habitual criminals kept by the police and circulated among the force on a regular basis. They include a detailed physical description noting all distinguishing marks and a full criminal record with notes on whether the convict had been apprehended. Some records are from the Police Gazette appendix which included photographs of some of the prisoners. Also included is a list of 5,824 habitual drunkards from the period 1903 to 1914, which would have been circulated weekly to licensed persons and secretaries of clubs. They usually contain two photographs of each drunkard: face on and profile.

644,000 New Records & Newspaper Articles At FindMyPast

The following is from the June 26, 2015 FindMyPast Friday Announcement at FindMyPast:


Australia Convict ships 1786-1849

Containing over 188,000 records, Australia Convict ships 1786-1849 date back the ships of First Fleet and include the details of some of the earliest convict settlers in New South Wales. These records are made up of five separate sets of musters and indents held by the the State Records Authority of New South Wales. They do not cover every convict who arrived in Australia on those early ships as many have been lost or scattered to other places. Indents records were used in the early settlements to keep track of the convict population while musters lists of who was on board a ship were taken at the port of embarkation.

Each record contains a transcript and a black and white image of original documents. Indents can include a variety of information about individual convicts such as their native place, details of their offence and sentence, a physical description and details of their family members. Musters usually only give a name, date and place of trial and sentence. Musters were also taken after disembarkation.

Australia Convict Conditional and Absolute Pardons 1791-1867

Containing almost 27,000 records, the Australia Convict Conditional and Absolute Pardons 1791-1867 list the details of convicts who built new lives in New South Wales. The records list the details of pardons by the Governor and date back to the earliest days of the colony. Pardons were generally handed out to convicts serving life sentences but in the earliest years of the colony the Governor had the power to grant both free and conditional pardons as rewards for good behavior, for special skills or for carrying out special duties or tasks. Conditional pardons meant that a convict was free as long as they stayed within the colony, known as “Government limits”. Most convicts received a conditional pardon. Absolute pardons meant that a convict’s sentence was completely remitted. They were free with no conditions and could move beyond the limits of the colony or even return to Britain.

Each record contains a transcript and an image of original documents. As well as listing the names of pardoned convicts, the records also include the name of the ship they arrived on, the term of the sentence they served , any additional notes, and details of their release.

New South Wales Registers Of Convicts’ Applications To Marry 1825-1851

New South Wales Registers Of Convicts’ Applications To Marry 1825-1851 contains over 26,000 records. Convicts in Australian penal colonies were actually encouraged to marry as Governors believed that marriage and family life were good for both the morality and stability. Convicts who did marry could apply for tickets of leave or pardons as well as assistance in establishing a household. In the early years of the colonies, many convicts married even if they had wives or husbands back home. The Governor had to give permission before any marriage could take place and copies of the banns would be sent by the local clergy to the Colonial Secretary.

Each record contains a transcript as well as an image of the original document. The registers list the convict’s name, the name of their spouse, their profession and the length of their sentence as well as the sip they arrived on and when they were given their freedom. Some approved marriages did not go ahead so you might find more than one successful application for your ancestor.

Victoria Prison Registers 1855-1960

Over 7,000 records have been added to our collection of Victoria Prison Registers 1855-1948. The new additions are taken from the Central Register of Female Prisoners, held by the Public Record Office Victoria. The register kept a record of prisoners that passed through Pentridge prison in Coburg, Victoria. Pentridge was built in 1850 and was the central prison in the Melbourne region from about 1860. Each record includes a transcripts and scanned image of the original registers and many include mug shot photographs of individual’s prisoners.

They list fascinating details about not only the prisoners’ offences, sentences and incarceration, but also biographical information such as their name, date of birth, country of origin and occupation. Remarks on the register may also include the name of the ship on which the prisoner arrived if they were not born in Australia.

Sligo Workhouse Admission and Discharge Registers 1848-1859

Containing of over 9,000 records, the Sligo workhouse registers 1848-1859 consist of handwritten registers taken by the Sligo Union workhouse, one of three workhouses in the County Sligo. Levels of poverty in Ireland were far higher than in England and the workhouse was often an inescapable part of life that would have touched many, if not most Irish families. They were designed for the most destitute of the poor who could not support themselves. Conditions were harsh and inhuman. Inmates were stripped of their dignity, they were no longer a person but instead a pauper inmate.

The records pre-date civil registration and will be valuable resource to those with Sligo ancestors given the lack of 19th century census material available in Ireland. Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original document. The registers list the names of new arrivals and details including their age, occupation, religion, any illnesses or infirmities, family members, local parish, their condition on arrival (usually describing clothes or cleanliness) and when they were discharged or died.

Clare Poor Law Unions Board Of Guardians Minute Books

Containing over 63,000 records, the Clare Board of Guardian Books were taken from the Kilrush and Ennistymon unions, two of eight poor law unions located in County Clare. The minute books recorded weekly reports on the number of inmates, new arrivals, births, deaths and discharges. They also recorded expenditures including food supplies and salaries as well as the number of inmates receiving medical treatments.

Each record contains a transcript and an image of the original handwritten minutes. The amount of information contained in the image can be considerable. The minute books recorded what was said at each meeting of the Board of Guardians, including correspondence and contracts but also individual cases that came before the Board. These include the day-to-day running of the workhouses, disciplinary matters concerning both staff and inmates, individual case histories, foundling children’s fostering and upkeep and the hiring of foster mothers and wet nurses.

Irish newspaper update

Over 308,000 new articles have been added to our collection of historic Irish Newspapers. Substantial additions have been made to Saunder’s News-Letter, a title that dates all the way back to 18th century Ireland and now contains nearly 950,000 fully searchable articles.

The entire collection now covers over 175 years of Irish history (1748-1924) and contains over 9.1 million articles from 72 national, local and regional titles from every province and major city in Ireland.

North West Kent Baptisms

Nearly 2,000 new records have been added to our collection of North West Kent parish baptisms. The new additions were transcribed by the North West Kent Family History Society and cover the parish of Southfleet.

Each baptism includes a transcript of the original parish record. The amount of information listed may vary, but most records will include the child’s name, date of birth, date of baptism, place of baptism, mother’s name, father’s name, father’s occupation, residence and any additional notes.

North West Kent Marriages

Over 500 records have been added to our collection of North West Kent parish marriages. The new additions were transcribed by the North West Kent Family History Society and cover the Parish of Southfleet.

Each of the records includes a transcript of the original marriage record. The amount of information listed may vary, but most transcripts will include the couple’s names, date of marriage, place of marriage, marital status, whether they were married by banns or licence and any additional notes.

North West Kent Burials

Over 1,500 burial records have been added to our collection of North West Kent parish records. These new additions were transcribed by the North West Kent Family History Society and cover the Parish of Sothfleet.

Each of the records includes a transcript of the original burial record. The amount of information listed may vary, but most records will include the deceased’s name, burial date, place of burial, residence, age at death, description and any additional notes.

Prisoners of War 1715-1945

Over 71,000 fascinating Prisoner of War records containing the details of American soldiers captured during the War of 1812 have just been released in partnership with the National Archives. The new records form the second phase of the wider Prisoners of War 1715-1945 collection, the first phase of which was launched in April with the release of over 43,000 World War 1 records. The records are taken from British Foreign Office, Colonial Office, Admiralty and Air Force papers held by the National Archives.

The latest additions record the details of Danish, French, Prussian and American prisoners captured by British Forces during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. They reveal when and where they were captured, where they were held and many include full physical descriptions such as hair, colour eye colour, build, complexion and any distinguishable marks. Records were also kept of their provisions and the supplies they received for example blankets, clothing, beds, etc. Each record includes a transcript and an image of the original handwritten document. The amount of information in each record can vary depending on the type of document and the amount of detail recorded at the time of the event.

British Newspapers

Over 2.8 million new searchable articles have been added to our collection of historic British Newspapers. The latest additions include 3 brand new titles, the Cornish Times, Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, Tadcaster Post, and the General Advertiser for Grimstone, as well as substantial updates to 37 existing titles.

The total collection now stands at over 124 million articles and 341 unique titles, covering 245 years of British history (1710-1955).

Historic Prisoner Record Book Surfaces and is Given to the Tasmanian Archives

The following teaser is from the Feb. 28, 2014 edition of


An historic prisoner record missing for decades is in the hands of Tasmania’s Archives and Heritage Office.

Inside the weathered exterior of the leather-bound book are 525 previously untold stories.

The book is a detailed record of prisoners who passed through the Hobart Gaol in the late 1800s.

It was recently given to the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site in Hobart.

The Curator Brian Rieusset says it is very detailed.

“It’s got records of 525 people who committed offences here in Tasmania,” said Mr Rieusset.

“What they did, where they went, where they committed the offences, what their sentences were.

Read the full article.

“In Cold Blood” Case Files Digitized and Online

The following excerpt is from
The Kansas Historical Society announced that the inmate case files for notorious murderers Richard Eugene “Dick” Hickock and Perry Edward Smith have been added to Kansas Memory, the Historical Society’s online archives of photographs, manuscripts, and government records.

Hickock and Smith were convicted of the 1959 murders of Herb and Bonnie Clutter, their daughter, Nancy, and son, Kenyon, at the family’s home in Holcomb. The murders inspired the non-fiction novel In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

The case files contain correspondence with prison officials and family members, clemency petitions, newspaper articles, and legal documents. Items of particular interest include last meal requests, fingerprints, and execution witness lists. Hickock’s file is available at and Smith’s file at

Read the full article.

Manchester “Bad Boys” Revealed in City Archive Records Released Online

The following news release was received from Amy Sell, with

Fascinating Victorian prison and workhouse records for Manchester have gone online for the first time ever at leading UK family history website ‘The Manchester Collection’ is a rich series of records provided by Manchester City Council’s Libraries, Information and Archives, highlighting criminals whose crimes number murder, stealing, and even bestiality. Scanned images of the original copperplate handwritten registers can now be viewed and searched online by the public.

The Manchester Collection consists of eight record sets with nearly 1,300,000 records that cover Manchester and some parts of Lancashire, due to boundary changes over the centuries. The full series on the site comprises prison registers spanning 1847-1881, industrial school admission and discharge registers, c1866-1912, school admission registers c1870-1916, apprentice records ranging from 1700-1849, baptism and birth registers covering 1734-1920, cemetery and death records for 1750-1968, marriage registers covering 1734-1808 and finally, workhouse registers, which include admission registers, creed registers and discharge registers. Today’s rioters and criminals get away lightly compared to many of the characters in the industrial schools and prison records.

The Prison Registers
The prison register records are some of the most fascinating within the collection giving details of the crimes committed and full particulars of the prisoners, including a description of what they looked like. This index contains 247,765 records for the period 1847-1881. The records cover Belle Vue Prison, New Bailey Prison and Strangeways.

A number of crimes can be found within the records, including murder, stealing as little as a lump of coal, being drunk and riotous and casually knowing (a Victorian euphemism for rape). The oldest felon discovered in the records was 91 years old and the youngest just seven. Repeat offenders were common and it is possible to trace their criminal careers. One woman was recorded 20 times over 14 years – she was blind in her left eye and had a pockmarked face, making her easily identifiable in the records.

Casually knowing a pig
In the prison records one Mr John Alty, aged 21 was charged on 6th March 1866 that he ‘having on the 30th January 1866 feloniously wickedly + against the order of nature did casually know a certain pig + then feloniously did perpetrate an unnatural crime at Manchester’. He was sentenced to 15 months’ hard labour. The record, as many do, includes details of his height, complexion, hair, weight and eyes and describes his occupation as a labourer. Also provided are his last known address, religion, education, marital status, distinguishing marks, nationality, previous committals and release date.

First execution at HMP New Bailey
James Burrows on May 31st 1866 was accused and charged that he ‘wilfully + malice aforethought killed + murdered one’ John Brennan at Hopwood on the 21st May 1866. He was sentenced to death and executed on August 25th 1866, aged 18. This case was widely covered in the newspapers at the time as James Burrows was the first person to be executed at the New Bailey Prison.

Moooove your ‘contagious’ cow!
In June 1870, Joshua Lomas, aged 36, was charged with driving a cow along the highway with a highly contagious lung disease. He was sentenced to one month in prison or the fine of £2. Joshua appears in the records again in 1877 charged with being drunk; he was sentenced to one day’s hard labour. Many of these criminals can be found more than once in the records.

Industrial Schools Indexes
Industrial schools were set up in the middle of the 19th century to provide lodging for destitute children. They were intended to prevent vulnerable children from falling into criminality; children would be educated and taught a trade and could be there for a set period or throughout their education. They were also ‘youth detention centres,’ where Victorian children were sent following anti-social acts for rehabilitation.

Five years detention for truancy
On October 3 1901, Joseph Marsh aged 10 was convicted for associating with bad companions and truancy. He was sentenced to a period of five years and four months detention in one of Manchester’s Industrial schools, Ardwick Green. In his record he is described as being 4’5” tall, 65lbs, with a fair complexion, broad nose, having very light hair with blue eyes. He had five vaccination pits on his left arm. Previously, he had been given three or four years schooling and could read, write and calculate to grade III standard. His mental capacity was said to be good. Like many boys, upon completing his time at the school he enlisted in the army. The records show he joined the 2nd West Yorkshire Regiment, which was then based in Palace Barracks, Holywood, Belfast and went on to have a successful army career. His strict discipline at the school clearly helped him stay on the straight and narrow and he went on to have a very successful army career.

Debra Chatfield, marketing manager at commented: “These records are a fascinating insight into the crimes of the Victorian era and provide so much more detail than census records. Many of the crimes carried out and their subsequent punishments are quite shocking, and are far removed from what we are familiar with today. For example, stealing one lump of coal could get you seven days hard labour. Imagine what the recent rioters would have faced if they had been under Victorian law and order. Even if you do not live in Manchester now, you may have had ancestors there 100 or more years ago and these records will prove to be an essential resource in tracing your family history. Manchester is one of the largest cities in the UK, and by making these records available online people will be able to discover even more about the lives of their Mancunian ancestors.”

The records have been published online by following a two year project to scan and transcribe the original records after the website was awarded a contract by Manchester City Council Libraries, Information and Archives.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council’s executive member for culture and leisure said: “We are continually developing our library and archive services to make them much more accessible and easy to use. We’re really excited to be working with to digitise these records so that they are easily available to everyone at the simple click of a button.”

You can search the Manchester Collection now at

Further details on the prison registers

This index contains 247,765 records for the period 1847-1881 and covers:

Belle Vue Prison was opened in 1849 by the Borough of Manchester. It was a short term jail but it proved inadequate and some prisoners were still sent to the New Bailey. It became a government establishment in 1877 and was demolished in 1892. The majority of prisoners would have been tried at the Assize Court or the Manchester Quarter Sessions.

The prison registers cover admissions for April 1850-November 1879. There are, however, some gaps for May 1853-March 1859, June 1867-May 1868, June 1871-April 1872, October 1874-July 1875 and September 1877-June 1878. Some pages in the registers have been water damaged.

New Bailey Prison, Salford, which opened in 1787 and closed sometime in the second half of 1868. As the Borough of Manchester had no gaol in 1839, agreement was made with the county magistrates of Lancashire that persons sentenced for up to six months should be housed in New Bailey Prison, Salford, while longer-term prisoners went to the County Gaol at Lancaster.

Strangeways Prison opened in June 1868. It was built to replace New Bailey Prison in Salford. It acted as the County Gaol for the Hundred of Salford (south-west Lancashire). It was renamed Her Majesty’s Prison, Manchester in the 1990s and is sometimes known as Cheetham Prison.

The prison registers consist of four types:

  • Female Registers 1868-1875
  • Female Description Books 1867-1879
  • Male Registers 1869-1879 (with gaps May 1871-April 1873)
  • Felony Register – Bolton and Salford Sessions (Male) & Manchester Assizes (probably New Bailey Prison and Strangeways Prison) January 1863-October 1876

The registers usually give:

  • Register number
  • Prisoners names
  • When and by whom crimes were committed
  • How committed
  • On what charge
  • Summary conviction
  • Sentence
  • Age last birthday
  • Personal description: height, complexion, hair, eyes, marks upon person and remarks
  • Professional trade or occupation
  • Place of birth
  • Last or usual residence (and address of friends, if to be advised of prisoner’s discharge)
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Married or single (and number of children)
  • Parents living
  • Number of previous committals
  • References
  • Register in last and next cases
  • Record book
  • Letter book
  • How disposed of at trial
  • Letters received and out
  • Date of discharge
  • Industrial school record details Manchester Collection covers Manchester Certified Industrial Schools, Ardwick Green from June 1866 – February 1912, Barnes Home, Heaton Mersey from January 1867-February 1908 and Northenden Road School for Girls, Sale from January 1867-February 1908
Registers will most likely include:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Date of birth
  • Date of admission
  • Where & by whom ordered to be detained
  • With what charged
  • By what school board sent
  • Period of detention
  • Previous character
  • Religion
  • Name of parents
  • Occupation of parents
  • Address of parents
  • Height, figure, complexion and weight
  • Educational attainment
  • Character of parents

Leading UK family history website (formerly was the first company to make the complete birth, marriage and death indexes for England & Wales available online in April 2003.

Following the transcription, scanning and indexing of over two million images, the company launched the first website to allow the public easy and fast access to the complete indexes, which until then had only been available on microfiche film in specialist archives and libraries. The launch was instrumental in creating the widespread and growing interest in genealogy seen in the UK today. has subsequently digitised many more family history records and now offers access to over 750 million records dating as far back as 1200. This allows family historians and novice genealogists to search for their ancestors among comprehensive collections of military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as the original comprehensive birth, marriage and death records.

In November 2006 launched the microsite in association with The National Archives to publish outbound passenger lists for long-distance voyages departing all British ports between 1890 and 1960.

In April 2007,’s then parent company Title Research Group received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2007 in recognition of their achievement. was acquired in December 2007 by brightsolid, the company who were awarded The National Archives’ contract to publish online the 1911 census, which it launched in January 2009.

In 2010 in association with The National Archives launched the British Army Service Records 1760 – 1913.

Manchester City Council – Libraries, Information and Archives
Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives holds a wide range of archives relating to the history of the Manchester area, its people and communities. It is part of Manchester City Council. Archive collections are currently based at the Greater Manchester County Record Office and the Manchester Room @ City Library whilst Manchester Central Library undergoes a major programme of renovation and refurbishment. When Manchester Central Library re-opens in December 2013 it will include a wonderful, purpose-built showcase and repository for the region’s archive and family history.

Genealogy Search Leads to the County House of Correction

The following excerpt is from an interesting article by Vicki-Ann Downing, published in the July 3, 2011 edition of the Enterprise.

Easton {Massachusetts] – When retired teacher Elaine Anderson decided to learn more about her great grandmother Elizabeth Dunphy McManus, she didn’t expect the search would lead her to jail.

But one June morning, Anderson and her friend, genealogy researcher Sara Carroll, both Easton residents, found themselves at the Plymouth County House of Correction, poring over old ledgers with the sheriff, Joseph D. McDonald, and his staff.

Anderson’s great-grandmother died in Plymouth in 1909, at age 56, in the midst of a one-month jail sentence imposed after she was tried in Brockton on a charge of “keeping a disorderly house.”

The allegation didn’t mean that McManus failed to vacuum and dust. Instead, her neighbors on Water Street in Brockton came forward to tell the court about disturbances linked to excessive drinking by McManus, her husband and her son.

Read the full article.

New Database of Atlanta GA Penitentiary Records 1880-1922 at

Have you any family members who may have served time in the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia between the years 1880 & 1922? If so, the has a database that you need to check out. It doesn’t show any original documents, but it’s a great index with enough details that you actually get quite a lot of information – even prior to sending for the prison file itself.

The database is titled: Atlanta, Georgia, Federal Penitentiary Index, ca. 1880-1922. If you’re looking for black sheep, this may be another resource to check out. Keep in mind, the person certainly doesn’t have to be from Georgia to spend time in a Georgia Federal facility.

Frank N. Canfield Index listing

I searched on the surname, Canfield, and found one. A record for Frank N. Canfield. It seems that Frank was white, and was born about 1891, and was convicted in a Hartford, Connecticut Court of violating national banking laws, and sentenced at age 26. He began serving time on 4 Jan 1917, and was released on 17 Jan, 1919. His penitentiary number was 6940.

Record for Frank N Canfield, born abt 1891

The following is from the website:

About Atlanta, Georgia, Federal Penitentiary Index, ca. 1880-1922
This data collection is an index to case files of inmates held at the Atlanta U.S. Penitentiary from approximately 1880 to 1922 (see citation to originals below). The purpose of the case files was to document an inmate’s time in prison. The files were compiled between 1902 and 1921 and include information such as:

  • Name of inmate (full name and other aliases)
  • Inmate number
  • Age at time of sentencing
  • Race
  • Date incarcerated
  • Release dates
  • Place of conviction
  • Crime
  • Sentence and fine amounts
  • Dispensation (i.e. “served full sentence”, “pardoned”, “paroled”, “deceased”, etc.)
  • Physical description
  • Birthplace
  • Level of education
  • Citizenship status
  • Info related to the inmate’s time in prison (i.e. violations, medical treatments, copies of letters sent or received, work assignments, etc.)
  • Many case files also include a fingerprint card and a mug shot.

About the Index:

Information contained in this index includes:

  • Name of inmate
  • Inmate number
  • Race
  • Age
  • Date incarcerated
  • Date released
  • Crime

How to Obtain Copies of Original Files:

The original case files are located at the NARA Southeast Region facility near Atlanta. To order copies of these records you will need to contact the Archive:

NARA Southeast Region (Atlanta)
5780 Jonesboro Road
Morrow, Georgia 30260
Phone: 770-968-2100
Fax: 770-968-2547

The original case files are arranged numerically by inmate number. Please make sure to include this number when requesting a copy of a file from the archive.

Source Citation of Original Case Files:
Inmate Case Files, compiled 1902-1921, documenting the period ca. 1880-ca. 1922. Records of the Bureau of Prisons, 1870-2009, Record Group 29. NARA Southeast Region (Atlanta).

Now go find one of your convict ancestors.

Texas Prison Records on Microfilm

Have you had any of your relatives incarcerated in the Texas State Prison System? It you have, then you’re in luck! (A good scandal makes for interesting genealogy.) The prison system included Huntsville Penitentiary, which opened in 1849, and Rusk Penitentiary, which operated from 1883 to 1891. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) holds 29 ledgers covering the years 1849–1954, with indexes for the period 1849–1970. The original documents are fragile, but they have been microfilmed and are available to research by interlibrary loan. There is considerable overlap of dates and entries between the individual indexes, especially those that cover the years 1849-1915. When researching convicts in the system prior to 1882, it is necessary to check three separate indexes.
From 1849 to 1891 the following information may be found in the ledgers:
Convict’s number
Convict’s name/aliases
Eyes (color)
Hair (color)
Marks on person
Marital relations
Use of tobacco
Nativity (birthplace)
Time of conviction
Terms of imprisonment
When received
Expiration (of sentence)
In late 1891, the categories were expanded to include:
Able to read
Able to Write
Number of years at school
Date of birth
Birthplace of father
Birthplace of mother
Exservice (military)
Once you’ve determined which reels of microfilm contain the volumes you wish to view, contact your local library to arrange an interlibrary loan. Up to six reels may be borrowed at a time. See the website for details.
TSLAC also has Conduct Registers for the period 1855 through about 1976. Although entries were not made for each convict, unique information found in the registers includes the prison unit where the individual is assigned (Huntsville, prison farm, railroad camp, etc.) and any notable punishments. Entries began in 1855 with convict number 207.
In Austin, you may view the 60 original Conduct Registers at the Texas State Archives, located just east of the Capitol at 1201 Brazos Street. The Archives is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and most federal holidays. The conduct registers have not been microfilmed nor are they available for use in the Genealogy Collection.
 For more information on the History of the Texas State Prison system, see The Handbook of Texas Online.