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Agency Information

Philadelphia Prisons System

[Record group 38]
Alternative/Former Names
Inspectors of the Jail and Penitentiary House;
Inspectors of County Prison;
Board of Trustees, Philadelphia County Prisons

Agency home page.
Agency Function
The mission of the Philadelphia Prisons System (PPS) is to maintain a correctional program that adequately detains individuals accused or convicted of illegal acts, while at the same time providing social services, supervision, training, and rehabilitation in a humane environment and in a cost-effective manner. The purpose of these efforts is to prepare those detained to serve as functional, productive members of society after their release.

Administrative Subunits
The Philadelphia Prisons System encompasses five institutions:
  • the Detention Center;
  • Holmesburg Prison;
  • the House of Correction;
  • Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (PICC); and
  • Pre-Release.
These facilities are located within close proximity to one another in the Greater Northeast section of Philadelphia.

Agency History
By an Act of 27 March 1789, the Mayor and aldermen of the City were directed to appoint six Inspectors to supervise the activities of the keepers of the Walnut Street Prison who were also appointed by the City authorities. This Act raised the prison's status to that of a state penitentiary. The number of the Inspectors of the Jail and Penitentiary House was increased to twelve in 1790, and in 1795 they were given full control of the activities of the prison. When opened in 1817, the Arch Stret Prison was also placed under the Inspectors' control.

Acts of 1821, 1828, 1829, 1831 and 14 April 1835 provided for the establishment of the Eastern State Penitentiary at Cherry Hill (North Philadelphia) and the removal to it of all state prisoners under the Inspectors' control, and for the construction of a new county prison in Moyamensing to replace the older two. This new prison was administered by the Board of Inspectors of the County Prison created by the Act of 1835 which also abolished the Inspectors of the Jail and Penitentiary House and directed that their funds and papers be transferred to the new Board. The twelve members of this new body were appointed equally by the Mayor, the District Court, and the Court of Quarter Sessions. Acts of 1883, 1884, and 1886 provided for the construction of an additional county prison, Holmesburg Prison. Moyamensing Prison closed in 1963; Holmesburg Prison in 1996.

The Board of Inspectors of the County Prison was abolished under the provisions of the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter of 1951 and the prisons transferred to the control of the Department of Public Welfare under the guidance of the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia County Prisons.

Under the Mayor's Executive Order 5-88, signed by Mayor W. Wilson Goode on 6 April 1988, the prison system was removed from the Department of Public Welfare (Human Services) and constituted as a separate Office of Prisons, known as the Philadelphia Prisons System, reporting directly to the Managing Director.

Archival Records
38.1 Inspectors of the Jail & Penintentiary House. Minutes (1794-1835)

38.2 Sales of City Lots (1804-1808)

38.3 Board of Inspectors, Minutes (1835-1941; missing January 1816-December 1820)

38.4 Inspectors of the County Prison. Annual Reports (1847-1858, 1860-1864, 1866-1868, 1870, 1871, 1929, 1939-1952)

38.4a Superintendent. Annual Report (1948)

38.5 Board of Inspectors, Reports Received (1847-1856)

38.6 Rules Adopted by Board (1846)

38.7 Building Committee, Minutes (1886-1929; missing 1888-1913.)

38.8 Committee on Manufacturing, Minutes (1840-1887, missing 1853-1875)

38.9 Parade Ground and Culvert Committee, Minutes (1839-1842)

38.10 Committee on Repairs, Minutes (November 1849)

38.11 Committee on Supplies, Minutes (May - December 1841)

38.12 Board of Inspectors, Expenditures Ledger (1848-1853)

38.13 Appropriations and Detailed Expenditures (1867-1915)

38.14 Accounts of Prison, City & County Treasurers (1836-1890, missing 1848-1853)

38.15 Accounts Ledger (1835-1914, missing 1847)

38.16 Rough Accounts Ledger (1840-1853)

38.17 General Accounts fo Expenses (1824-1854, missing 1837-1847)

38.18 Ledger, "Sundry" Expenses and Receipts (1829-1830)

38.19 Cash Book (1814-1921; missing 1817-1820, 1860-1865)

38.20 Superintendent's Cash Journal (1853-1930, missing 1866-1896)

38.21 Receipt Slips (1827-1836)

38.22 Departmental Sales Journal (1833-1853)

38.23 Sales Journal, General (1833-1838)

38.24 Incidental Sales Journal (1844-1853)

38.25 Accounts, Cut Stone Sales (1822-1836)

38.26 Goods Purchased Against Prisoners' Earnings (March - December 1834)

38.27 Stock Book (1800-1805)

38.28 Appropriation Ledger, Holmesburg Prison (1881-1896)

38.29 Appropriation Accounts, Holmesburg Prison (1881-1896)

38.30 Appropriation Book, Holmesburg Prison (1897-1915)

38.31 Detailed Expenditures, Holmesburg Prison (1881-1896)

38.32 Ledger, Sundry Expenses and Receipts, Holmesburg Prison (1909-1930)

38.33 Voucher Register, Holmesburg Prison (1920-1943, missing 1927-1937)

38.34 Payroll Book, Holmesburg Prison (1938-1939)

38.35 Convicts' Docket (1792-1812)

38.36 Sentence Docket (1794-1923)

38.37 Index of Prisoners (1831-1931, missing 1909-1910)

38.38 Prisoners for Trial Docket (1790-1948)

38.39 Daily Occurrence Docket (1811-1948)

38.40 Receiving Description Docket (1825-1864, missing 1829-1840)

38.41 Convict Description Docket (1826-1931, missing 1831-1867)

38.42 Entry Docket, Male (1866-1896)

38.43 U.S. Government Prisoners, Holmesburg Prison (1902-1915)

38.44 Vagrancy Docket (1790-1932; missing January 1798-May 1804, January 17, 1871-September 1893, Jan. 13, 1907-March 1, 1915)

38.45 Intoxication Docket (1846-1915)

38.46 Quarter Sessions Court Record (1874-1888, missing September 1876-June 1885)

38.47 Register, Prisoners Punished (1839-1896, missing 1849-1873)

38.48 Discharge Description Docket (1830-1933, missing 1836-1872)

38.49 Discharge Docket (1835-1896; missing January 1868-April 1883, June 1889-December 1891)

38.50 Untried Department, Discharge Index (1863-1929; missing October 1875-April 1876, October 1878-June 1879)

38.51 Discharge Index, Chronological (1847-1866)

38.52 Discharge Index, Alphabetical (1865-1875)

38.53 Commutation Calendar (1871-1951)

38.54 Convicts Docket, Female (1838-1891)

38.55 Convicts and Sentenced Prisoners Entry Docket, Female (May 1890-July 1907)

38.56 Commitment Docket, Female (1840-1956; missing 1942-1952)

38.57 Entry Docket, Female (1872-1929)

38.58 Sentence Docket, Female (1889-1900)

38.59 Petty Criminal Calendar, Female (1867-1900)

38.60 Convicted and Sentenced Female Description Docket (1889-1917)

38.61 Description Docket, Female (1901-1941; missing 1906-1907)

38.62 Index, Female Prisoners (1889-1894)

38.63 Register, Prisoners Punished, Female (1873-1928)

38.64 Discharge Calendar, Female (1890-1950)

38.65 Commutation Docket, Female (December 29, 1885 - December 27, 1951)

38.66 Foreign-Born Female Convicts (1897-1905)

38.67 Prison Diary (1846-1849)

38.68 Prison Diary, Female Department (1850-1935; missing 1902-1932)

38.69 Matron's Daily Reports (1929-1932)

38.70 Medical Register (1835-1853)

38.71 Medical Journal (1836-1855)

38.72 Health Histories, Female Prisoners (1891)

38.73 Prison Births (1858-1879)

38.74 Death Register (1819-1914; missing 1831-1842, 1889-1894)

38.75 Prison Homicides (1906-1937)

38.76 Rations Book (1836-1894; missing September 1870-December 1880)

38.77 Provisions Ledger, Female (1829-1831)

38.78 Goods Received Journal (1844-1887; missing 1858-1883)

38.79 Stock Ledger (1898-1937; missing 1905-1909)

38.80 Cordwaining Work Book (1875-1896)

38.81 Prisoners' Cordwaining Accounts (1875-1885)

38.82 Cordwaining Works Received and Delivered (1854-1867)

38.83 Cordwaining Account Ledger (1854-1896, missing 1864-1869)

38.84 Cloth Production Ledger (1859-1861)

38.85 Weavers Accounts (1859-1866)

38.86 Executions List (1839-1916)

38.87 Convict Description Docket, Holmesburg Prison (May 21, 1894-December 30, 1913)

38.88 Discharge Calendar (1917-1935)

38.89 Female Discharge Description Docket (1889-1917)

38.90 Discharge Books, Female (January 1895-April 1918)

Current Records
Unavailable


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Last updated on November 8, 2000