In response to a petition from the Board of Prison Inspectors of Allegheny county concerned with the rising costs of maintaining prisoners at the county jail and the increasingly crowded conditions there, in 1866 the state legislature authorized the construction of a workhouse in Allegheny County. The Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum at Claremont (Blawnox) admitted its first inmates in 1869, two years before the buildings and wall were completed. The workhouse was officially closed in 1971.

The following comprises a collection of records for the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum throughout it’s 102 year existence from 1869-1971. Most of these manuscripts can only be seen in person at the Pennsylvania State Archives, but some of them have been digitized and can now be seen online. It should be assumed if there is no online link to a database or manuscript, than that data is only able to be viewed in person.

Board of Managers Records

Allegheny County Workhouse Account Books, 1904-1940

Arranged chronologically. Monthly account of business expenditures and expenditures made at the Allegheny County Work House. Among the recorded expenditures are the sales of brooms, carpet, brushes, chairs, maintenance, and general funds; and the amount of cash on hand for the month; the number of warrants required and to be detained. The number of inmates discharged for the month is also provided. The account book for 1911-1922 provides detailed information on the amount of wages paid to employees and the transactions with companies that provided maintenance or other services at the prison. This information is separated among the East Wing, West Wing, and the Female Department.

  1. Account Books, 1904-1916
  2. Account Books, 1911-1922
  3. Account Books, 1916-1928
  4. Account Books, 1928-1940

Allegheny County Workhouse Admission and Discharge Books, 1870-1877

Arranged chronologically. Daily accounting’s of the number of men received and discharged at the Allegheny County Work House. An evening head count of inmates is also noted.

  1. Admission and Discharge Book, 1870-1873
  2. Admission and Discharge Book, 1873-1876
  3. Admission and Discharge Book, 1876-1877

Allegheny County Workhouse Cash Book, 1866-1871

Listing of expenditures of the members of the Board of Managers of the Allegheny County Work House. The manager’s name is given along with the dates of transactions and receipt information.

  1. Cash Book, 1866-1871

Allegheny County Workhouse Contract Book, 1867

Arranged chronologically. Detailed descriptions of works done at the Allegheny County Work House, including rustic work, brick work, stone work, and painting.

  1. Contract Book, 1867

Allegheny County Workhouse Minute Books, 1866-1971

Arranged chronologically. Minutes of the meetings of the Superintendent and the Board of Managers of the Allegheny County Work House and Inebriate Asylum. The basic information provided is the date, place, and time of the meeting; the names of the board members present and excused; and summaries of the topics covered at the meetings. The bulk of the meetings covered financial transactions and expenditures. Complete listings of the expenditures of the prison are provided for the respective month. Vote counts of any motions brought forward at the meeting are also provided.

  1. Minute Books, 1866-1881
  2. Minute Books, 1882-1891
  3. Minute Books, 1891-1903
  4. Minute Books, 1903-1915
  5. Minute Books, 1915-1923
  6. Minute Books, 1923-1933
  7. Minute Books, 1933-1938
  8. Minute Books, 1939-1947
  9. Minute Books, 1948-1962
  10. Minute Books, 1963-1966
  11. Minute Books, 1966-1971

Allegheny County Workhouse Oaths of Officials, 1888-1912

Arranged chronologically. Oaths of officials that swore to execute the duties assigned at the Allegheny County Work House and Inebriate Asylum and to obey the orders of superior officers and carry out the laws of the State of Pennsylvania. Each entry has the signature of the individual taking the oath, date , and the signature of the Notary Public.

  1. Oaths of Officials, 1888-1912

Allegheny County Workhouse Pay Rolls of Officers and Employees, 1877-1909

Arranged chronologically by monthly pay periods. Monthly report of payments given to officers and employees of the Allegheny Work House.The information provided includes the name of the officer or employee, the occupational title, the number of whole time days worked, the whole amount paid to the employee, the amount deducted for rent, and the total employee expenditures for the month.

  1. Pay Rolls of Officers and Employees, 1877-1909

Allegheny County Workhouse Visitor’s Records, 1871-1880

Arranged chronologically by date of entry. Register of visitors to the Allegheny Work House. Information provided is visitor’s name and date of visit.

  1. Visitors’ Records, 1888-1912

Allegheny County Workhouse Population Records

Allegheny County Workhouse Conduct Books, 1870-1906, 1915-1919

Arranged chronologically. Monthly inmate conduct ratings for prisoners of the Allegheny County Work House. The provided information includes the inmate’s name, inmate number, date of sentencing and term of expiration, description of charge, monthly ratings for the respective year, and date and type of discharge. Conduct ratings are typically labelled “good” or “bad”.

  1. Conduct Book, 1870-1877
  2. Conduct Book, 1877-1885
  3. Conduct Book, 1885-1890
  4. Conduct Book, 1890-1896
  5. Conduct Book, 1896-1902
  6. Conduct Book, 1902-1906
  7. Conduct Book, 1915-1919

Allegheny County Workhouse Daily Sick Call Books, 1896-1940

Arranged chronologically. Daily or weekly statistics of the male and female medical patients at the Allegheny County Work House. The information provided includes the date and the number of prisoners affected by each particular medical condition. In some cases it is noted if and how the patient was cared for. No patient or inmate names are provided in these books “Daily Occurrences” reads like a daily “diary” of events that transpired at the Allegheny County Work House. Incidents mentioned include the rationing of food to prisoners, the attending of the sick, and the sentencing of punishments.

  1. Daily Sick Call Books, 1896-1897
  2. Daily Sick Call Books, 1904-1905
  3. Daily Sick Call Books, 1906-1908
  4. Daily Sick Call Books, 1912-1914
  5. Daily Sick Call Books, 1914-1917
  6. Daily Sick Call Books, 1917-1921
  7. Daily Sick Call Books, 1922-1925
  8. Daily Sick Call Books, 1925-1929
  9. Daily Sick Call Books, 1929-1930
  10. Daily Sick Call Books, 1930-1932
  11. Daily Sick Call Books, 1933-1935
  12. Daily Sick Call Books, 1936-1937
  13. Daily Sick Call Books, 1937-1938
  14. Daily Sick Call Books, 1938-1939
  15. Daily Sick Call Books, 1939-1940
  16. “Daily Occurrence Book”, 1869-1870

Allegheny County Workhouse Discharge and Descriptive Dockets, 1873-1971

Indexed by date of discharge and internally arranged numerically by register number. Registers which provide details on an inmate upon his/her discharge. The provided information includes name and register number, age when discharged, color and sex, crime sentenced for, date of sentencing, date of discharge, amount of time served, how discharged, occupation in prison, weight when discharged, and additional remarks. The Weekend Prisoners volume provides a listing of inmates received on weekends. Each entry provides the inmate’s name, number, date and time of arrival, date and time of departure, and number of days credit.

  1. Dockets, 1873-1876
  2. Dockets, 1877-1881
  3. Dockets, 1881-1884
  4. Dockets, 1884-1886
  5. Dockets, 1886-1888
  6. Dockets, 1888-1891
  7. Dockets, 1891-1893
  8. Dockets, 1893-1895
  9. Dockets, 1895-1897
  10. Dockets, 1897-1899
  11. Dockets, 1899-1903
  12. Dockets, 1903-1906
  13. Dockets, 1906-1909
  14. Dockets, 1909-1913
  15. Dockets, 1913-1917
  16. Dockets, 1917-1922
  17. Dockets, 1922-1926
  18. Dockets, 1923-1927
  19. Dockets, 1926-1930
  20. Dockets, 1930-1934
  21. Dockets, 1934-1942
  22. Dockets, 1942-1952
  23. Dockets, 1952-1964
  24. Dockets, 1964-1971

Allegheny County Workhouse Escaped Prisoner Books, 1882-1971

Arranged chronologically. Indexed internally by surname. Descriptions of inmates that escaped or attempted to escape from the Allegheny County Work House. The information provided includes prison inmate number, name, sex, skin color, nationality, complexion type, eye color, height and weight, marital status, occupation, charge for incarceration, date inmate was sentenced and received by the prison, number of times at the prison, and where in the prison the inmate escaped from. Details about the escape or attempted escape include time served prior to escape, time left to serve, disposition, and whether the individual was recaptured or not. If recaptured, the entry tells where, when, and by whom.

  1. Escaped Prisoner Book, 1882-1920
  2. Escaped Prisoner Book, 1921-1946
  3. Escaped Prisoner Book, 1946-1971

Allegheny County Workhouse Hospital Record Books, 1913-1939, 1968-1970

Arranged chronologically. Records of inmates who visited the hospital at Allegheny County Work House. The provided information includes the inmate’s name and number, sex, race, occupation, date of birth and birthplace, age, date of sentencing and length of sentence, marital status, name and birthplace of parents, dates of the stay at the hospital, name of person to notify in case of death, place of burial, and additional remarks. The “Pre-Sentenced Inmates” volume provides the name of the inmate and the inmate number, date received, and date of disposition. This volume seems to have very little to do with stays at the hospital or medical matters of the inmates.

  1. Hospital Record Book, 1913-1919
  2. Hospital Record Book, 1921-1927
  3. Hospital Record Book, 1927-1930
  4. Hospital Record Book, 1930-1932
  5. Hospital Record Book, 1932-1934
  6. Hospital Record Book, 1937-1939
  7. “Pre-Sentenced Inmates”, 1968-1970

Allegheny County Workhouse Prison Register Books, 1869-1951

Arranged chronologically; therein arranged alphabetically by surname. A series of volumes that serves as an index to inmates of the Allegheny County Workhouse. Each entry provides the inmates name and inmate number, date of discharge, and additional remarks.

  1. Prison Register Book, 1869-1880
  2. Prison Register Book, 1880-1883
  3. Prison Register Book, 1886-1890
  4. Prison Register Book, 1890-1894
  5. Prison Register Book, 1894-1898
  6. Prison Register Book, 1898-1902
  7. Prison Register Book, 1902-1905
  8. Prison Register Book, 1905-1908
  9. Prison Register Book, 1908-1912
  10. Prison Register Book, 1912-1916
  11. Prison Register Book, 1916-1920
  12. Prison Register Book, 1920-1924
  13. Prison Register Book, 1924-1928
  14. Prison Register Book, 1928-1931
  15. Prison Register Book, 1931-1936
  16. Prison Register Book, 19336-1942
  17. Prison Register Book, 1942-1951

Allegheny County Workhouse Punishment Books, 1870-1873, 1880-1892, 1904-1959

Arranged chronologically. Monthly listings of inmates of the Allegheny County Work House that were sentenced to punishment for violating the rules of the prison. The layout of the punishment books changes over the years, but the basic information provided is the same. Information provided includes the name of the inmate and the inmate’s prison number, date, details on the offense, how the inmate was punished, and the name of the reporting officer.

  1. Punishment Book (labelled “Conduct Record”, 1870-1872
  2. Punishment Book, 1873
  3. Punishment Book, 1880-1892
  4. Punishment Book, 1889-1892
  5. Punishment Book, 1904-1921
  6. Punishment Book, 1921-1933
  7. Punishment Book, 1933-1959

Allegheny County Workhouse Register to Include All Prisoners Tried and Sentenced to Hard Labor Books, 1869-1971

Arranged chronologically; therein arranged numerically by register number. Registers of all inmates sentenced to hard labor while at the Allegheny County Work House. The provided information includes the inmate’s name and register number, nationality, date of reception, eye and hair color, complexion, height, parental information, education, occupation prior to sentencing, habits, marital status, military background, date and term of sentencing, court and county of sentencing, number of previous convictions, religion, date of discharge, and remarks.

  1. Register, 1869-1872
  2. Register, 1873-1878
  3. Register, 1878-1884
  4. Register, 1884-1886
  5. Register, 1886-1890
  6. Register, 1890-1895
  7. Register, 1895-1900
  8. Register, 1900-1902
  9. Register, 1902-1905
  10. Register, 1905-1907
  11. Register, 1907-1910
  12. Register, 1910-1913
  13. Register, 1913-1916
  14. Register, 1916-1919
  15. Register, 1919-1923
  16. Register, 1923-1926
  17. Register, 1926-1929
  18. Register, 1929-1931
  19. Register, 1931-1936
  20. Register, 1936-1941
  21. Register, 1941-1949
  22. Register, 1949-1956
  23. Register, 1956-1968
  24. Register, 1968-1971
  25. “Week-end Prisoners Book”, 1968-1971

Printed Books and Manuscripts

Allegheny County Workhouse Reports, 1873-

Arranged chronologically by year of report. Annual reports of the of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum to the Inspectors of the County Prisons. Typical reports have a manager’s report, superintendent report, financial report, statistical tables, chaplain’s report, and physician’s report.

  1. First Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1870
  2. Second Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1871
  3. Third Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1872
  4. Fourth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1873
  5. Fifth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work House, to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1874
  6. Tenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1879
  7. Eleventh Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1880
  8. Twelfth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1881
  9. Thirteenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1882
  10. Fourteenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1883
  11. Fifteenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1884
  12. Sixteenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1885
  13. Seventeenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1886
  14. Eighteenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1887
  15. Nineteenth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1888
  16. Twentieth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1889
  17. Twenty-first Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1890
  18. Twenty-second Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1891
  19. Twenty-third Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1892
  20. Twenty-fourth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1893
  21. Twenty-fifth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1894
  22. Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1895
  23. Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1896
  24. Twenty-eighth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1897
  25. Twenty-ninth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1898
  26. Thirtieth Annual Report of the Officers of the Allegheny County Work-house to the Inspectors of the County Prisons, 1899
  27. Thirty-First Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1900
  28. Thirty-second Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1901
  29. Thirty-third Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1902
  30. Thirty-fourth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1903
  31. Thirty-fifth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1904
  32. Thirty-sixth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1905
  33. Thirty-seventh Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1906
  34. Thirty-eighth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1907
  35. Thirty-ninth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1908
  36. Fortieth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1909
  37. Forty-first Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1910
  38. Forty-second Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1911
  39. Forty-third Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1912
  40. Forty-fourth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1913
  41. Forty-fifth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1914
  42. Forty-sixth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1915
  43. Forty-seventh Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1916
  44. Forty-eight Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1917
  45. Forty-ninth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1918
  46. Fiftieth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1919
  47. Fifty-fourth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1923
  48. Fifty-fifth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1924
  49. Fifty-sixth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1925
  50. Fifty-seventh Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1926
  51. Fifty-eighth Annual Report of the Managers of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum, for the Year 1927

Laws and Rules of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum

A handbook of rules and regulations at the prison in 1924. A topic index can be found at the end of the volume.

  1. “Laws and Rules of the Allegheny County Workhouse and Inebriate Asylum”, 1924. (3 copies)

Feeding of Inmates of Allegheny County Workhouse

By E. W. Tillotson, Jr., and W. A. Hamor. A detailed study that examines the menu and rationing program for inmates and employees at the Allegheny County Workhouse. The study covers dietary requirements, proteins, calories, fuel value, and proposed standards for feeding.

  1. “The Feeding of the Inmates of the Allegheny County Workhouse” by E.W. Tillotson, Jr. and W.A. Hamor, 1914.

Discharge and Descriptive Dockets, 1873-1971

 

Note: There is significant damage to many of the pages in this series thereby obliterating the ability to read most names in some sections of the 7,000+ page manuscripts.

Original Source: Allegheny County Workhouse Records, Series 197m.10. Manuscript Group 197. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Locations Found:

Register to Include All Prisoners Tried and Sentenced to Hard Labor Books, 1869-1971

Allegheny County Workhouse Records, Series 197m.16. Manuscript Group 197. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Arranged chronologically; therein arranged numerically by register number. Registers of all inmates sentenced to hard labor while at the Allegheny County Work House. The provided information includes the inmate’s name and register number, nationality, date of reception, eye and hair color, complexion, height, parental information, education, occupation prior to sentencing, habits, marital status, military background, date and term of sentencing, court and county of sentencing, number of previous convictions, religion, date of discharge, and remarks.

Additional Reading

Additional reading on county homes, asylums and work houses, and how to use them in your genealogical research: