Incarceration in a variety of contexts and settings has been deeply ingrained in American society for centuries. The experience and processes of incarceration takes many forms including criminal detention, imprisonment in wartime, and immigration detainment. This primary source set contains a range of items tracing the history of incarceration in the United States and includes images, maps, political cartoons, and reports–all from the digital collections of the Library of Congress. Highlighted throughout the set is an emphasis on prison reform and efforts to address prison living conditions and rehabilitation efforts. This set aims to show a range of sources rather than attempt to fully address any aspect of a vast and complex subject. Download PDF.
1861 – 2007