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Source Information

Ancestry.com. McNeil Island, Washington, U.S. Penitentiary, Photos and Records of Prisoners Received, 1875-1939 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008.
Original data:

McNeil Island Penitentiary Records of Prisoners Received, 1887-1951; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M1619, 4 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Prisons, Record Group 129; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

McNeil Island Penitentiary Prisoner Identification Photographs 1875-ca. 1923. ARC: 608846; Bureau of Prisons, Record Group Number 129; The National Archives at Seattle. Seattle, Washington. USA

About McNeil Island, Washington, U.S. Penitentiary, Photos and Records of Prisoners Received, 1875-1939

In 1875 the U.S. government opened a prison for Washington Territory on McNeil Island. In 1889 the prison became a federal penitentiary. This database contains records of prisoners received at McNeil Island Penitentiary between 1887 and 1939. When prisoner information was recorded, photographs of the prisoner were placed on the front of the card, with the information pertaining to that prisoner on the back. Check the previous image to see if there is a photo of the person for whom you are searching. There may be photographs with no pertinent information following, or a string of photographs only.

These records list personal information about each prisoner, such as:

  • Name

  • Alias

  • Offense, crime, or cause of arrest

  • When and where arrested

  • Where tried

  • When convicted

  • Date and term of sentence

  • Physical description (age, height, weight, color of eyes, complexion, color of hair and whiskers, marks)

  • Marital status

  • Whether able to read or write

  • Occupation

  • Religion

  • Birthplace or nationality

  • Residence

  • Relations (parents’ names, wife’s name, number of children)

More or less information may be recorded for an individual depending on the form type used. Note: Some forms contain multiple pages, filmed as separate images. Therefore, it may be necessary to check the images following the one on which you find the name of an individual, in order to see if it is a continuation of the record.

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