The Resource Virginia Penitentiary records, 1798-1865
- Virginia Penitentiary records, 1798-1865
- Inclusive dates
- These records are part of Auditor of Public Accounts. Administration of State Government: of State Government - Institutions. Virginia Penitentiary
- Most of the penitentiary records consist of invoices, receipts, and vouchers for manufactured goods. The reports of the board of directors, however, include lists of inmates
- This series contains the following records: Agents' Accounts, 1811-1822, 1 ft.; Articles Furnished the Lunatic Hospitals, 1834-1859, 3 in.; Contractor's Accounts and Receipts, 1818, 82 items; Invoices of Goods Sold, 1808-1817, 3 in.; Invoices of Materials Purchased, 1810-1819, 2 in.; Reports of the Board of Directors, 1817-1818, 1 in.; Vouchers, 1798-1799, 1806-1809, 1826-1839, 1862-1865, 1 ft
- Agency history record describes the history and functions of the Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (1776-1928) (Search as Virginia Auditor of Public Accounts (1776-1928))
- Biographical or historical data
- On 15 December 1796 the General Assembly approved the purchase of land for the construction of "a gaol and penitentiary house." Thomas Jefferson submitted plans for the institution based on prisons that he had seen in France, but these were not accepted. The General Assembly authorized a design competition and selected Benjamin Henry Latrobe to be the architect. Although inmates first entered the penitentiary in 1880, the structure was not completed until 1804.
- In 1823 fire destroyed the interior of the penitentiary. Rebuilding began at once. New buildings were added and a wall was constructed around the perimeter of the facility. In 1833, however, Alexis de Touqueville called the penitentiary "one of the bad prisons of the United States." The physical plant survived the Civil War, although the inmates looted and pillaged it during the Confederate army's evacuation of Richmond on 2-3 April 1865. After the war, new construction began to replace the Latrobe structure, and the last of the old buildings was demolished in 1928.
- During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, inmates labored under a contract system and produced goods for sale by private firms. The penitentiary employed a series of agents across the state whose duties included selling the goods manufactured at the penitentiary and providing travel money to discharged inmates. Not all of the manufactured goods from the penitentiary were sold; clothing and household items of penitentiary manufacture were donated to the state mental hospitals at Williamsburg and Staunton.
- Cataloging source
- Citation location within source
- entry no. 131
- Citation source
- Auditor of Public Accounts inventory
ContextContext of Virginia Penitentiary records, 1798-1865
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