Idaho Prison Records

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United States Gotoarrow.png Idaho Gotoarrow.png Prison Records

In 1864, the Idaho Territorial Legislative Assembly designated the jails in Lewiston and Idaho City as "temporary territorial prisons." In 1866, the two were consolidated by designating the Boise County Jail as the territorial prison, and all prisoners were transferred there. A new prison building just out of Boise was completed for the Territory in 1872, which became the State Prison, when Idaho became a state in 1890.

The Idaho State Archives in Boise has approximately 18,000 inmate files of the Idaho State and Territorial Penitentiary. The records begin in 1864 when the territorial penitentiary was established. The archives has published and indexed a "catalog of all inmates, 1864-1947" and has made it available online. There are also published sub-catalogs for "women inmates, 1864-1947", and for "inmates associated with the mining industry, 1865-1910."

These inmate files contain interesting historical and genealogical information on the forms included. Many of the files contain photographs, although it was not a regular practice to take "mug shots" of inmates until the mid-1890s. From about 1884, a "Description of Convict" form was included, and from about 1893, the so-called "Bertillon Chart" was part of the file.