19th Century Prison Reform Collection

Investigator: Katherine Thorsteinson, PhD candidate, English

Arts & Sciences, 2017

In the early to mid-19th century, U.S. criminal justice was undergoing massive reform. The state prisons that had emerged out of earlier reform efforts were becoming increasingly crowded, diseased, and dangerous. This collection draws together invaluable documents surrounding the emergence and development of the Auburn and Pennsylvania Systems. These documents help chart the debate between these alternate prison reformation systems, the emergence of prison labor, the theological origins of the American prison, and the historical implications between slavery and mass incarceration. The collection supports research and teaching for a wide variety of disciplines, and is especially significant given the intensity with which the public is now concerned with the current state of incarceration.

19th Century Prison Reform Digital Collection