Printing in Prisons

2023 University of Pennsylvania

project author: Whitney Trettien


user interface design front-end development

This website explores the use of printing presses at Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) from the 1890s through the prison's closure in 1970. Originally installed as a type of prison industry, to print forms, pamphlets, and books for the city and state, the presses were also used to print newsletters and magazines edited and written by incarcerated men. This site focuses on two publications in particular: The Umpire (1913-18) and Eastern Echo (1956-67), both of which are almost entirely extant in single fragile copies held at the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. Through curated exhibits, a collaborative research blog, and open access datasets, this website aims to generate more research and public interest in these rare, unknown materials and the unique stories they contain.