Any Ancestors in Federal Prisons?

Yes, that could be a possibly, a relative who was tried in a US Federal Court, found guilty and had to serve their sentence in a Federal operated prison could be on your family tree. A Federal crime could involved embezzlement, espionage, drugs, forgery, bank robbery, counterfeiting money, a crime on the high seas, crime against US Post Office, assaulting a Federal worker, conspiracy and many more.

The National Archives has online the list of inmates in several different Federal penitentiaries. The information provided include the full name, the inmate number, their age and race, which federal court their trial was held and most important, what crime were they found guilt of.

Beginning with the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary the dates covered on inmates is 1902 to 1921. The names are in alphabetical order. Just scanning over the names and their crimes is an eye-opener. If you want to order a copy of the full records, they provide email and phone numbers at the National Archives of Atlanta offices.

Another fascinating Federal prison is that of U.S. Penitentiary at Alcatraz, outside of the city of San Francisco. Known as the ‘Rock’ it was first acquired by the Federal government in 1846, purchased for $5,000 and used mostly for military purposes. It came to the Justice Department in 1933 and became the Federal Alcatraz Prison in August 1934. The available inmate files cover 1934 to 1963. This site gives just the full name and a register number. For example, the famous Alphonse “Scarface” Capone is register number 85. Copies of an inmates records can be provided by contacting the National Archives at San Francisco. The full address is provided.

Another famous prison is that of the U. S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. The available inmate records cover from 1895 to 1931. Here also the full name and register number is provided and full copies can be ordered. If you believe a relative was in Leavenworth after 1931, they also provide an address to see if records for 1932 to 1952 can be obtained.

So do a bit of investigating and see if there were any Federal prisoners on the family tree.

Photo: Alcatraz Prison.

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