Finding Illinois Ancestors - wherever their trails led!

Illinois Genealogy Trails History Group
Transcriptions of The Joliet, Illinois Prison Convict Registers

©2001-2007, Kim Torp, Barb Ziegenmeyer, Sharon Wick
Many thanks to Donna Walton for pitching in!

An Illinois Genealogy Trails transcription project

Update: We've added over 1100 more names as of April 2007 to make the total number of records we now have online at 2458. We've also set up a database-type of program to view the names individually. This will allow faster page loading as well as less webpage formatting work for us so we can concentrate on the actual transcribing.

Please visit often for updates.....

Click here to view the alphabetical index we have set up.
(this is a work in progress....)

Click here to view the convicts by county

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.


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.

Prisoners in the Southern Illinois Penitentiary, Chester, Randolph County, Illinois
From the 1880 Census

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

Escaped Prisoners 1843, detailed descriptions given

Hansel G. HORN
Escaped Prisoner 1840, detailed description given

Some prison links: 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


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