Illinois Trails History & Genealogy
The Joliet, Illinois Prison Convict Register
An Illinois Trails/Illinois State Archives transcription project
The Joliet Correctional Center is the oldest of Illinois' four maximum security facilities. Thirty-three inmates were first received at Joliet in May 1858. Joliet Correctional Center was built partly due to the overcrowding of the prison at Alton the state s first prison, which closed in 1860. In December 1872, Joliet had an inmate population of 1,239 making it the largest prison in the United States, a distinction it held for several decades. Joliet s role as a maximum security facility has changed and evolved over the years, resulting in the modern facility that exits today.
The Illinois State Archives holds the REGISTERS OF PRISONERS 243.200 in their possession. You can request copies of this register by writing to the State Archives. Be sure to include the section of the Archive descriptive holdings that contains the record you are looking for. We would appreciate donations of this material, should you write and request copies. (Just a note: those at the state archives have been extremely helpful, courteous and prompt with all the questions and requests I have sent in the past. Since instituting their online submission record request form, I'm sure they are very busy. Please be patient...they WILL get to your request.)
Included in this register is the following, taken from the State of Illinois Archives website:
REGISTERS OF PRISONERS. August 29, 1833-November 31, 1841; May 15, 1847-June 27, 1975. 172 vols. Index (RS 243.201).
Registers are of prisoners received at the Alton prison (1833-1860) and the Joliet/Stateville site (1860-1975). Registers variously provide the prisoner's registration number and name; date received; names of aliases used; name of the county in which the crime was committed; description of the crime; sentence term; prisoner's plea; his age, height, complexion, hair and eye colors, birthplace, and length of residence in Illinois; indication that his parents are living or dead; their residence; his marital status and if married his wife's residence; his religious affiliation, habits (e.g., drinks, smokes, chews), and education; the term of the court which convicted him; and his disposition (e.g., discharged, paroled, escaped, sent to insane asylum, died).
Beginning October 1885 also provided are the prisoner's weight, occupation, former prison record, age he left home, parents' birthplaces, the number of children he fathered, and his prison work assignments, conduct record, and medical treatment history. After July 1895 the prisoner's race, names of associates, hereditary diseases, conditions of heart and lungs, addresses of correspondents, and parole record are given. Starting January 1914 the prisoner's naturalization status is provided and after July 1936 indication of past service in the U.S. armed forces is given.
For the period February 15, 1854-September 27, 1878; September 14, 1881-September 3, 1885 a separate commutation section is provided. It shows the date of commutation, the prisoner's registration number and name, the name of the county with jurisdiction, the length of the original sentence, the length of the commuted sentence, and the name of the Governor granting the commutation.
Please visit often for updates.....
to view the index we have set up.
(this is a work in progress....)
Prisoners in the Southern Illinois
Penitentiary, Chester, Randolph County, Illinois
From the 1880 Census
Prisoners in the Southern Illinois Penitentiary, Chester, Randolph County, Illinois
From the 1900 Census - In progress
You may also view some wanted posters for the following men:
Wilford J. PALMER, Thomas WHITE and Adam GUIDAL
Escaped Prisoners 1843, detailed descriptions given
Isaac BELL and Wm. B. LEDBETTER
Escaped Prisoners 1842, detailed descriptions given
Hansel G. HORN
Escaped Prisoner 1840, detailed description given
Some prison links:
SuburbanChicagoNews.com: Joliet Prisons - great history and pics
IL DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS: Joliet Correctional Center - official website
Alton, Illinois - Civil War Era - Confederate Prison
Misc. Prison Records - Nation-wide link index at Ancestor Hunt
The Illinois Trails State Data Page
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