The Ohio Historical Society holds the Prisoners’ Register (the admission books) for the Ohio Penitentiary from 1829 through 1973. These records, particularly those prior to 1900, are of real interest to genealogists as they often contain a great deal of personal information about people who are not regularly mentioned on family trees. Aside from the physical description, which includes eye color, hair color and distinguishing marks, there are the notes about behavior. These notes include drinking, smoking and religious habits but will also contain information about close family and friends: the sort of people the prisoner was likely to connect with should he escape.
You can view and make copies of these records at the Ohio Historical Center for 25 cents per page. Or you can write in to the Research Services department and request copies sent to you through the mail. We charge a fee of $12.00 for copies of the admission record if you can provide a specific citation to the admission entry. A specific citation must include the name of the prison, the name of the person being researched, and the year of admission. If you cannot provide a specific year of admission, it will be considered a research request. There is a base nonrefundable fee of $25.00 for research requests. For the $25.00 fee we will search the Ohio Penitentiary admission records for a specified time period of your choosing (within a 10-year range) for the admission entry.
If you are interested in knowing what other types of records OHS holds for the Ohio Penitentiary, access our Online Computer Catalog for information about the items we hold. You can reach our catalog at the following Web address: http://www.ohiohistory.org/occ/menu.htm. You can access our library holdings by choosing to do an “Archives/Library Collections” search. You can do a Browse Author (alphabetical by author) search for Ohio Penitentiary to see what kinds of records we have written by the Ohio Pen organization. You can also do a Browse Subject search for Ohio Penitentiary to see what kinds of items were written about the prison.