Iowa, Governor. Consecutive Registers of Convicts, 1867-1960 [Books 1 through 7]. Digitized images. Iowa State Historical Society, Des Moines, Iowa.
Iowa, Board of Control. Consecutive Registers of Convicts, 1872-1970 [Books 8 through 12]. Digitized images. Iowa State Historical Society, Des Moines, Iowa.
Within this collection, you’ll find convict registers from three Iowa state penitentiaries: the Iowa State Penitentiary at Fort Madison, established in 1839; the Anamosa State Penitentiary in Anamosa; and the Iowa State Reformatory for Women in Rockwell City.
Fort Madison was the first state penitentiary in Iowa, established while Iowa was still a U.S. territory, seven years before statehood. The registers for Fort Madison include entries from 1867–1970 and are complete from May 1885 to July 1970. The earliest register, created in 1885, begins with a register of all inmates imprisoned in 1885 (who were incarcerated between 1867 and 1884) and continues with a consecutive listing of convicts admitted thereafter. Convicts released prior to 1885 from Fort Madison are not included in the registers.
A second state penitentiary opened in 1873 at Anamosa, in Jones County. Known in its early years as the “additional penitentiary”, its name was changed in 1884 to State Penitentiary, Anamosa. In 1907, the facility became the State Reformatory, the prison for young first-time male offenders which it remained until 1997, when it once again became a state penitentiary. The registers from Anamosa span from 1872 to 1970 and are complete from Sept. 1885 through July 1970. Like Fort Madison, the records for Anamosa do not include entries for inmates released prior to 1885.
Initially women were held at both Fort Madison and Anamosa, but in 1917 the Iowa State Reformatory for Women opened in Rockwell City. The records for this facility span 1917–1970.
The registers varied somewhat through the years, but they typically list prisoner’s name, sentencing and admission dates, sentence, crime, county, term of court (in earlier records), judge, age, physical description, nativity, nationality, whether temperate/intemperate, education, religion, number of former incarcerations, and disposition.
Note: This collection consists of two series, with two sets or two copies of the Consecutive Registers of Convicts (the Governor's records and the Board of Control's records). This means that there are two records for most convicts. It is possible that there may be slight differences in the entries recorded for each inmate, particularly under the final disposition, which is the last column.