Historical Prison Press Newspapers and Periodicals

face of a prisoner
Reference point: sheet: additional data

Prisoner-produced publications, by state, city, prison, publication name, year first known, year last known, with circulation data for prison press and leading publications.

From the early twentieth century through the early 1980s, many U.S. state prisons had prison newspapers or periodicals (prison press). Prisoners wrote the articles and published the newspapers. Subscriptions to some of the newspapers were available to persons outside of the prison.

This workbook describe the time span of publication (years of existence) of prison publications in individual U.S. prison since 1883. The prison press has not been well-collected, cataloged, and archived. The dataset should be considered neither complete, nor authoritative, nor necessarily accurate. Data on individual prisons and publications should be considered a starting point for further research. As always, primary sources should be verified for crucial information. The dataset in aggregate provides a description of penal publications in a form that can be related to the historical universe of state prisons and prison populations. It documents media that have largely disappeared and been forgotten.

For information about the Canadian prison press, see Gaucher (1989).

Dataset sheets:

  • prison press dataset: records of prison publications, with state, city, prison, first year known and last year known
  • additional data: circulation estimates for Star of Hope (New York) and prison publications generally
  • best prison publications, 1963: top ten prison publications, according to poll of prison press editors

Related datasets:

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