The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons


This document is a membership certificate for the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons. The society was founded in 1787 by prominent Philadelphia citizens, including Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Benjamin Rush, with the aim of correcting abuses in the city jail. The lithograph contains a vignette with a portrait bust of Bishop White, the long-time president of the organization, and a bird's-eye view of the buildings and grounds of Eastern State Penitentiary. The paragraph at the bottom describes this institution, also known as Cherry Hill State Prison, as “the Model Prison of' The Pennsylvania System of Prison Discipline' or "Separate System'" of incarceration in which "each convict occupies a single cell or workshop." Other features described are the construction, dimensions, and utilities of the building, including "seven corridors of cells," "heat by hot water," and "water in each cell." The prison was built in 1823–36 after the designs of John Haviland, and was located at 2101–99 Fairmount Avenue. The prison grounds are surrounded by a brick wall with a Gothic-style entrance gate, and the grounds include garden plots. Undeveloped land and cityscape, including Girard College, border the prison building. The print is by James Fuller Queen, a Philadelphia lithographer and pioneer chromolithographer who produced many views of the city.

Last updated: April 22, 2013