Prison Records

Early Louisiana Prison Records

convictsI was looking through the card catalog at FamilySearch when I came across a new resource. This is not a happy resource, but it’s interesting and sad all at once.

FamilySearch has Louisiana penitentiary records for 1866 to 1963. They’re not indexed, but you can flip through the digital books. Click here to give them a look.

The records start in the year 1909 (but really start in the year 1908). Indexes to prisoners go back to 1866. I have no idea where the records for the earlier years are.

An early ledger records that a Will Carey received lashes for laziness and misconduct. 

By records, I mean these are mostly conduct slips. They’re not pretty reading. They basically record how many lashes prisoners received for infractions – anything from sodomy to escaping to stealing food. Sadly, many prisoners were lashed just for perceived laziness.

Joseph Bailey’s record shows he was beaten for intoxication but later turned into a model prisoner.

In later years, the records get more detailed and include what the prisoner was charged with and his next of kin.

I was looking at the records when I spotted someone in the 1800s with a surname spelled very similar my extremely rare maiden name. He was in jail for horse stealing. Fortunately, he’s not in my family tree. Maybe he was a wayward cousin that no one mentioned.