The Tennessee State Penitentiary opened in 1831. Prior to that offenders were held in county jails. Surviving records of the Penitentiary are housed at the State Library and Archives as Record Group 25.
The following list of inmates is found in ledger volume 43 of those records. The ledger also includes the date received in the Penitentiary, the prisoner's state of birth, and the date discharged.
The index Inmates of the Tennessee State Penitentiary 1851-1870 is also available on the Tennessee State Library and Archives web site.
PLEASE NOTE : The Library and Archives will search the two published volumes of Tennessee Convicts: Early Records of the State Penitentiary, 1831-1870 for a listing of a name. The entries in these two volumes are verbatim transcripts of the original records. E-mail the Library and Archives and we will check to see if there is a listing for the subject in the index. There is no charge to check this published index, and the Library and Archives will notify you of the cost to make a copy of the record if found. The Library and Archives will respond to e-mail requests promptly; response time may vary, depending on the amount of research required to answer your question and the unique nature of your request. If you need immediate assistance you may call the reference desk at (615) 741-2764 or visit us in person.
If the individual was in the Tennessee State Penitentiary after 1870, please e-mail the Library and Archives to see if there is a listing for the name.
To order copies of the listings from Tennessee Convicts: Early Records of the State Penitentiary, you can use the OTHER section on the Printed Index Search Request Form. To order copies of the Tennessee State Penitentiary records, please e-mail the Library and Archives.