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Data from Admission Books of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA

About these Datasets

These datasets contain data from the three admission books held at the American Philosophical Society Library, including inmate name, crime, sentence, place of origin, race/ethnicity, time in and time out, and comments on moral and educational condition. Some also include notes on previous convictions or progress made while incarcerated. A typical entry: "No. 58, Dec. 14, 1830. Saml Davis, Mulatto, Rape 12 yrs. Exceedingly excited, Enraged at the Judge & threatened revenge, Swore if knife or Pistol could be had, would revenge his wrongs upon his prosecutor also had sold himself to the Devil & meant to rush on to hell for revenge -- did not wish to hear of religion. Pardoned Nov. 21, 1842."

Admission Book A

Dates: 1830-1839

Prisoner Numbers: 20-1124

Admission Book B

Dates: 1839-1843

Prisoner Numbers: 1125-1677

Admission Book D

Dates: 1845-1850

Prisoner Numbers: 1941-2600

How these datasets were created

This is the work of dedicated volunteers at the American Philosophical Society Library, notably Michelle Ziogas.

Conventions used

Double brackets ( [[ ]] ) are used to denote words that are not legible, or when there are other doubts about the text.

Abbreviations are left in place. We encourage users to download and manipulate the data as needed.

What these datasets are not

This is not a replacement for viewing the original admission books. Care was taken to minimize mistakes and inconsistencies while creating these datasets, but each one is being offered "as is". Despite the best efforts of all involved, mistakes often occur during the creation of datasets. Scholars are encouraged to consult the original records, in digital or physical format. Digitized versions are available through the collection finding aid:


These datasets are available for anyone to evaluate, share, reuse, and remix as they wish under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, and in accordance with the APS Open Access Policy. Please attribute APS Library & Museum. A sample citation can be found in the dataset documentation.


Michelle Ziogas did the majority of the work; the project was initiated and managed by Scott Ziegler.


Data from Admission Books of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA







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