Manuscripts and Archives

  • American Philosophical Society
    A search on APS’ Digital Library for the word penitentiary will reveal many full text free online sources. Of particular relevance are their Eastern State records from 1819-1955. You can see a finding aid for that collection here.
  • Cumberland County Archives
    Cumberland County’s Archives holds several series of documents concerning Eastern State Penitentiary up to the year 1887. These documents include annual bills from Eastern State for maintenance costs of prisoners convicted in Cumberland County and discharge certificates for those inmates. To see lists of holdings and some images, go to Cumberland County's Listings Page and search all archives for the word “penitentiary.”
  • The Pennsylvania State Archives
    Click here for information specifically about prison records at the State Archives. The Pennsylvania State Archives has the most comprehensive collection of inmate records from Eastern State Penitentiary. Click here for the Genealogical Research at the Pennsylvania State Archives web page.
  • Repositories of Primary Sources
    This website lists many repositories in the United States and Canada that may be able to assist you with your search—a university, historical society, or archives not listed on our website may have the information you need!
  • University of Pennsylvania
    The Rare Book & Manuscript Library Collections hold the daybooks of Eastern State architect John Haviland from 1820-1837 as well as the papers of J. William White, who was a surgeon at Eastern State and a member of the Board of Inspectors in the late 1800s. For information about modern penology, also see the Johan Thorsten Sellin Papers.