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Bertillon cards with photographs [graphic]

 Series — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SAS 1002 AV

Scope and Contents

Individual cards for each prisoner include front and profile photographs, height, age, weight, color of hair, state of birth, and several Bertillon system measurements. The Bertillon system of identification of criminals was based on the measurement of certain bony lengths of the body and was used before fingerprints. It was invented by French anthropologist Alphonse Bertillon, and was adopted by the Ohio Penitentiary in 1887.


  • 1888-1919


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access


Biographical / Historical

First erected in 1813 at the corner of Main and Second streets, the state penitentiary in Columbus was a three-story brick structure with 13 cells. A new three-story building was built on the same site in 1818. By 1830 the state penitentiary proved inadequate. In 1832, the legislature approved building a new penitentiary capable of holding 500 convicts. The building was constructed on Spring Street in 1834. In 1885 the Ohio Pen became the location for all executions, which previously took place in the various county seats. In April 1955 it housed an all-time high of 5,235 prisoners. Most prisoners were removed from the prison by 1972, following completion of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. The Ohio Pen was closed in 1984. The site was abandoned and remaining buildings were demolished in 1997.


15.17 cubic feet