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Prison reform scrapbook


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

During the 19th century, prison reform in the United States became an increasingly popular issue debated by both political leaders and the populace. A new philosophy of reforming the prisoner rather than simply punishing them emerged and soon, two opposing systems surfaced: the Auburn system which advocated silent group work and the Pennsylvania system which advocated solitary confinement. As a result of these systems, new prisons were built to promote the carrying out of these penitentiary reforms.

Despite these systems being considered "model systems," it became clear that there was still room for improvement in the way in which prisoners and the mentally ill were treated. As a result, several groups formed, including the Boston Prison Discipline Society and the Prison Association of New York, which worked to improve conditions for the inmates. The topic of prison reform was regularly reported upon in newspapers of the day.

It is unclear who created this scrapbook of newspaper clippings relating to prison reform which dates from the mid 19th century. Clippings address the treatment of the insane in prison, prison disciplinary systems, case studies, and reports on various prisons, primarily in Pennsylvania and New York. Many of the articles are undated but appear to range in date from 1843 to 1857, which was a very active era for the prison reform movement.

The first several pages of the volume appear to be in rough chronological order and include articles mentioning the Baltimore Alms House, the Boston Prison Discipline Society, Sing Sing Prison, New York State Prison at Auburn, the State Lunatic Asylum at Worcester, the McLean Asylum, the Eastern State Penitentiary, and the New York Prison Association. There are clippings mentioning the prison system in France, as well as the increase in crime in Great Britain. At page 25, the articles appear to be grouped by region. Researchers will find information on the Schuylkill County Prison (with an article written by William Parker Foulke), Adams County Prison, Columbia County Prison, and Philadelphia County Prison. There is also a clipping of a "letter of John Haviland respecting the architecture of the separate system," numerous clippings referring to Judge Kelley (possibly William D. Kelley) and George H. Hart. Haviland was the architect of the Eastern State Penitentiary and both Kelley and Hart were prominent Philadelphians who appear to have been deeply committed to prison reform. A few loose clippings were removed from the volume and placed in a folder.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Kelin Baldridge
Finding Aid Date
2016 February 17
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use. However, the volume is extremely fragile with a broken binding and brittle pages. Researchers interested in using this collection will require assistance from Kislak staff. Please make an appointment so that staff will be available.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

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Prison reform scrapbook of newspaper clippings.
Volume 1
Newspaper clippings removed from volume, 1853-1854.
Folder 1

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