Open Historic Data Projects

These are some open historic data projects I've worked on.

Eastern State Penitentiary Data

These datasets contain data from the three admission books held at the American Philosophical Society Library, including inmate name, crime, sentence, place of origin, race/ethnicity, time in and time out, and comments on moral and educational condition. Some also include notes on previous convictions or progress made while incarcerated. A typical entry: "No. 58, Dec. 14, 1830. Saml Davis, Mulatto, Rape 12 yrs. Exceedingly excited, Enraged at the Judge & threatened revenge, Swore if knife or Pistol could be had, would revenge his wrongs upon his prosecutor also had sold himself to the Devil & meant to rush on to hell for revenge -- did not wish to hear of religion. Pardoned Nov. 21, 1842."

A Note on Empathy

The records represent real people who lived real lives, often under very difficult circumstances. In most cases, the only information we have about the inmates is created by prison officials and others in positions of authority. Approaching these lives with empathy and understanding creates a deeper understanding of history.


This dataset was used to create the project Eastern Apps: Visualizing Historic Prison Data

Access the data

Learn More

Historic Postal Records

These datasets are created from a volume of 372 pages that records receipt and dispatch of all mail in the Philadelphia Post Office between May 25, 1748 and July 23, 1752. Deliveries into the Post Office from out of town were listed, letter by letter, by the names of the addressees, weight and amount due, paid or free. Outgoing mail was simply listed by number of sheets and weight, not by individual letters. The data is presented here in two sets, one for incoming and one for outgoing.

The records were kept during Benjamin Franklin's tenure as Postmaster of Philadelphia.

Access the data

Learn More

As I continue to work on projects at LSU Libraries, I'll update this page.