Treatment FOCUS: Eastern State Penitentiary's Mug Shot Book
Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 and immediately set itself apart from other prisons of the time: instead of punishing inmates through physical abuse, Eastern State instituted a Quaker-inspired system of isolation meant to push prisoners toward reflection and change. For decades, Eastern State served as a model for prisons throughout the world. But the system gradually disappeared from Eastern State until 1913, when separate confinement was officially abandoned. The penitentiary itself was abandoned in 1971.
When Eastern State reopened in 1994 as a historic site offering interpretive tours, staff discovered a variety of artifacts, including furniture, documents, and artwork, that had been abandoned in the ’70s. Former officers and inmates added to this collection, returning items that they had saved. Today, after stabilizing its physical structure to ensure visitor safety, Eastern State has begun focusing on collections care. The site is raising $60,000 to treat 10 objects identified as the highest conservation priorities.