Sing Sing Prison opened in Ossining, New York, in 1826. The volumes in this collection include information on inmates who were received into the prison between the years 1852 and 1938. The format of the registers changed over time, and slightly different information was recorded for different periods.
What You Can Find in the Records
Early registers recorded the inmate’s name, county tried in, crime, dates of conviction and admission, sentence, alias, and county received from. Personal details may include age, place of birth, marital and family status, residence, physical description, and identifying markings (e.g., scars, tattoos, etc.). Literacy, language spoken, religion, habits, and occupation were also noted.
Later years added even more information, with more detailed descriptions and incarceration history in 1908, and after 1914, forms were expanded to include details such as parents, nativity, immigration, military service, and more.
Sing Sing was the third state prison built in New York, replacing the first, Newgate Prison, built in New York City in 1797. Planner Elan Lynds, warden at New York's Auburn Prison, started construction of Sing Sing in 1825 using Auburn inmates. The prison opened in 1826 and was completed in 1828. More buildings were added later, including a wing to house women prisoners that was built in 1837 and remained in operation until 1877. The first execution of a woman using the electric chair was at Sing Sing, and it was also the site of the last execution in the state in 1963.