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 Tennessee State Library and Archives as Record Group 25.
The following list of inmates is found in ledger volume 43 of those records. The index for these listings gives the name of the individual, the year, race, age, the crime, and the county or court in which the individual was convicted.
The listings in this index are taken from the book Tennessee Convicts: Early Records of the State Penitentiary, Volume 2, 1850-1870, by Charles A. Sherrill. The author has granted permission to reproduce this index on the Library and Archives web site.
The index Inmates of the Tennessee State Penitentiary 1831-1850 is also available on the Library and Archives web site.
PLEASE NOTE : The Tennessee State 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. Visit the Ask Us a Question! web page 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 visit the Ask Us a Question! web page 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 visit the Ask Us a Question! web page.