Events

Tuesday, September 6, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Caleb Smith: Race and Incarceration in an 1850s Prison Memoir

Free. Reception to follow.

Caleb Smith was part of a team of Yale scholars that recently discovered and authenticated the earliest known prison memoir by an African American writer. Smith will discuss his role bringing to light Austin Reed’s The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict. Reed wrote his memoir while incarcerated in New York’s Auburn State Prison in the 1850s.

Caleb Smith is a professor of English and American Studies at Yale University. He is the author of The Oracle and the Curse and The Prison and the American Imagination.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Friday, September 9, 2016 - 8:00pm

Secret Cinema

The Secret Cinema presents THE INSIDE VIEW: SHORT FILMS ABOUT PRISON at Eastern State Penitentiary
General Admission: $10

The Secret Cinema returns for its 16th film screening at Eastern State. This year -- for the first time -- the program will not be based around a prison-themed feature film. THE INSIDE VIEW: SHORT FILMS ABOUT PRISON will instead be a collection of rare documentaries, television drama, and even a cartoon, all about life behind bars, with none longer than 30 minutes.

The films will be shown using real 16mm film (not video) projected on a giant screen. Highlights include The Expert (1983), Types of Inmates (1965), M-Squad: The Hard Case (1957), and more.

Doors open at 7:00 pm. Seats are limited. Tickets are available online or at the door, subject to availability.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 - 7:00am - 10:00am

ESP Insider: Members’ Photography Morning

Members only

Members photograph part of the penitentiary in the early morning light before the site opens. Enjoy light refreshments and conversation after the photo shoot.

Space is limited. Members will receive an email with reservation details.

Note: This is a members-only event. Click here to join today!

Saturday, September 10, 2016 - 10:00am - 4:00pm

Campus Philly’s CollegeFest

Free. Participating college students only.

CollegeFest is the city’s all-day welcome for new and returning college students. During CollegeFest, museums across the city open their doors and provide free admission to college students. For more information, visit http://campusphilly.org/collegefest/

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 7:00pm - Saturday, November 5, 2016 - 7:00pm

Terror Behind the Walls

Select Nights
Tickets starting at $19

Terror Behind the Walls, America’s largest haunted house, is called “perfect for Halloween” by The New York Times, named #1 in the nation by Forbes, and featured on NBC’s TODAY Show. Terror Behind the Walls takes place inside the massive, castle-like walls of Eastern State Penitentiary and is consistently ranked among the top haunted attractions in America.

All proceeds from Terror Behind the Walls benefit the preservation of Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark. Terror Behind the Walls does not affect operation of the historic site, which remains open for tours every day from 10 am to 5 pm.

For FAQs, preview videos, and tickets, visit terrorbehindthewalls.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman: Last Day of Freedom

Free. Reception to follow.

An award-winning animated short film telling the story of Bill Babbit's decision to stand by his brother in the face of war, crime and, eventually, capital punishment. (32 minutes followed by Q&A with the filmmakers)

Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman are artists/filmmakers who bring to life larger issues of criminal justice and civic responsibility. Their work blends animation and documentary forms to move beyond dehumanizing statistics, striving for empathy and critical reflection.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Monday, October 24, 2016 (All day) - Friday, October 28, 2016 (All day)

Behind-the-Scenes Tours of the Archives

Standard Admission

To celebrate Archives Month Philly, Eastern State Archivist Erica Harman will lead several special 15-minute Hands-On History tours of the penitentiarys' collection storage area. She will meet up to 15 guests at Al Capone’s Cell for this never-before-offered behind the scenes adventure, which will take place at 11:00 am and 3:30 pm daily, October 24 through October 28.

Included with admission. No reservations necessary.

These special tours are part of the Archives Month Philly celebration of archives. Archives are information centers where records about the past are made available to researchers. There are dozens of archives in the Philadelphia area. Check out other citywide events at Archives Month Philly.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Johnny Perez: The Truth about Solitary Confinement

Free. Reception to follow.

Johnny Perez will speak about the policy and practice of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons. He will discuss the psychological consequences of prolonged isolation, as well as reform efforts at the state and national levels.

Johnny Perez is a reentry advocate for the Urban Justice Center in New York City. He spent three years out of a 13-year sentence for armed robbery in solitary confinement, and he draws on his personal and professional experience in his work as a national advocate for solitary reform. He also co-chairs the Communications Committee for the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

Heather Ann Thompson: BLOOD IN THE WATER

at the African American Museum in Philadelphia
Free to the public. No reservations required.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site and The African American Museum in Philadelphia Present:
Heather Ann Thompson:
BLOOD IN THE WATER: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy

Blood in the Water, Heather Ann Thompson’s new title from Pantheon Press, is a gripping account of one of this nation’s most famous civil rights protests–one that ended in tragedy with law enforcement killing dozens of unarmed men and severely wounding more than a hundred others....

Blood in the Water is extraordinary— a true gift to the written history of civil rights and racial justice struggles in America.”
—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson is an award-winning historian at the University of Michigan. She has written on the history of mass incarceration, as well as its current impact, for The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, Salon, Dissent, New Labor Forum, and The Huffington Post.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections.

NOTE: This event takes place at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, 701 Arch Street. No reservations required.

Saturday, November 19, 2016 (All day) - Sunday, November 20, 2016 (All day)

Members' Photo Contest

Standard Admission

Eastern State is one of the most photogenic locations in America. Each year photographers travel from all across the globe to photograph the penitentiary.

Each member may submit one color and one black and white Eastern State Penitentiary photograph for the annual Members’ Photo Contest. Photos remain on view throughout the weekend. Visitors to the historic site can cast votes for their favorite images throughout the weekend.

On Sunday afternoon at 4:00 pm, two sets of winners are announced in the color and black and white categories.  Guest curator Stephen Perloff selects one set of winners, and the results of the weekend’s voting are also announced. Each first place winner from the Members' Photo Contest has the opportunity to schedule a four-hour, private, behind-the-scenes photo shoot of Eastern State Penitentiary.

Click here to download the photo contest guidelines.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm

The Searchlight Series: December 2016

Free. Reception to follow.

Discussion topic TBD.

This event is part of Eastern State's ongoing Searchlight Series of events addressing issues in contemporary corrections. The Searchlight Series discussions take place the first Tuesday of every month, free and open to the public. No reservations required.