Inmates of the Tennessee State Penitentiary 1851-1870
The Tennessee State Penitentiary opened in 1831. Prior to that offenders were held in county jails. Surviving records of the Penitentiary are housed at the State Library and Archives as Record Group 25.
The following list of inmates is found in ledger volume 43 of those records. The index for these listings gives the name of the individual, the year, race, age, the crime, and the county or court in which the individual was convicted.
The listings in this index are taken from the book Tennessee Convicts: Early Records of the State Penitentiary, Volume 2, 1850-1870, by Charles A. Sherrill. The author has granted permission to reproduce this index on the TSLA web site.
The index Inmates of the Tennessee State Penitentiary 1831-1850 is also available on the TSLA web site.
PLEASE NOTE : TSLA will search the two published volumes of Tennessee Convicts: Early Records of the State Penitentiary, 1831-1870 for a listing of a name. The entries in these two volumes are verbatim transcripts of the original records. E-mail TSLA and we will check to see if there is a listing for the subject in the index. There is no charge to check this published index, and TSLA will notify you of the cost to make a copy of the record if found. TSLA will respond to e-mail requests promptly; response time may vary, depending on the amount of research required to answer your question and the unique nature of your request. If you need immediate assistance you may call the reference desk at (615) 741-2764 or visit us in person.
If the individual was in the Tennessee State Penitentiary after 1870, you will need to submit a written request for a search for the name. TSLA will not accept e-mail requests to search penitentiary records dated after 1870.
Instructions for ordering copies of entries found in the following index, as well as ordering a search of the later Tennessee State Penitentiary records, can be found in our section on services available by mail (listed under "State Penitentiary and Record Groups").
Added June 15, 2011