Friday, July 13, 2007

San Quentin Intake Records, 1909-1912

An essay by Bruce McKinney, What Book Collecting Becomes, in Americana Exchange, includes a link to San Quentin Prison intake records, 1909-1912, including these.

McKinney describes the database this way:

A set of the intake records for San Quentin Prison in Marin County, California, just across the bay from San Francisco. This is a set of sequentially numbered pages beginning with sheet 1 and continuing to 833 including details about each prisoner. These records, perhaps one of 2 to 4 sets, were prepared for law enforcement and possibly for San Quentin itself. They span the years 1909 into 1912, are mounted three to a page [11 x 14"], were originally bound into books but are now housed sheet by sheet in archival wraps and divided into four cases, each containing more than 100 leaves, mounted on two sides, printed, typed, many noted in hand and almost all with an "intake" photograph [2.75 x 3.25"]. The handwritten notes suggest these records remained within the prison or in the hands of enforcement well into the 1930s.
San Quentin was both a state prison and the local option for many of San Francisco's cases. It was, to quote Sergeant Joe Friday of Dragnet forty years later, "Full of people hard to understand." With this article is a database, created from these records, of all the men and women logged into San Quentin who passed through the San Francisco court system during this four year period. Intake photographs for each prisoner, apparently taken almost immediately after arrival, are affixed to each record. They are the blue links. Comparison of sentence with the appearance of the prisoner is telling.

Thanks to Mike Widener for the tip.


Anonymous said...

Are these inmates only those sentenced from San Francisco, as the wording implies? I'm looking for a Willard E. Thomas who on 4-25-1910 was sentenced from Sonoma County to life in San Quentin for murder. He is not listed in the database.

Mary L. Dudziak said...

The article unfortunately no longer seems to be accessible without a password. If you haven't seen it, I would try to get access through your library. If the article doesn't answer your question, if I remember correctly, it provides info about the database so that you could contact folks associated with it to find out more about it. Finally, you could contact the author of the article, Bruce Kinney. You might start with the "contact us" link here: