Michigan Penal Publications
Introduction: Penal Publications at the Library of Michigan
One of the many unique collections at the Library of Michigan consists of penal publications. These are periodicals published by and for inmates at jails, prisons, and reformatories. Occasionally, items are also published by inmates for those outside the institutions.
The periodicals often contain materials provided by the institutional administration, plus local news and sports, comics, updates on legislation and institutional procedures, self-help articles, poems, stories, and articles written by the inmates. Many institutions in Michigan have produced such publications, most notably Jackson State Prison, the Industrial School for Boys in Lansing, Branch Prison in Marquette and the Girl’s Training School. Other institutions have experimented with these publications and only produced a few issues. The oldest penal publication currently identified in the Library of Michigan’s collection is an 1893 issue of the Bi-Monthly Bulletin from the Industrial School for Boys in Lansing. However, most of the collection consists of items published between 1930 and 1990.
The production of these periodicals served a number of purposes. Primarily, they gave the inmates something productive to do with their time. Writing, publishing and printing also taught a number of marketable job skills. Writing for the papers gave inmates a creative outlet. Finally, at some institutions, writing seems to have been encouraged for its therapeutic value.
Penal publications provide a valuable source of information about prison life for researchers and families.
Penal Publications by Institution and Title
For the sake of organization this list is ordered by location first, then institution, date, then title. Nearly all of these collections are incomplete.
Adrian: Girls Training School
The All Star Journal: 1955-1950?
Campus News: 1963-1965
Get the Scoops: 1965-1966
Battle Creek: Michigan Youth Challenge Academy
Coldwater: Florence Crane Women's Facility
The Flow: Females Learning Other Ways: 1986-1987
Insight: Serving the Women of Florence Crane's Women's Facility: 1988-1991
Detroit: Ryan Regional Correctional Facility
The Ryan Regional Review: 1922
Holland: D.C.R. (Dunes Correctional Facility)
Lakeside Onlooker: 1985-1987
The Dunes Onlooker: 1987-1988
Ionia: Michigan Reformatory
Hill Top News: 1934-1988
News Bulletin: 1986-1996
Ionia: Michigan Training Unit
Oracle (Michigan Training Unit Oracle): 1983-1987
Ionia: Riverside Correctional Facility
The Riverside Voice: 1986-1987
Jackson: Michigan State Prison
School News: 1930-1932
American Prisoner: 1933
The Spectator: 1930-1991
New Look: 1966-1969
Other State Prison produced publications:
A Trip Through Michigan State Prison: Sold as a Souvenir as a Benefit of the Prison Band: 1910
Souvenir: Michigan State Prison, Jackson as under Warden Hulbert: 1920
Industrial souvenir, Michigan State Prison, as under Warden Hulbert: 1922
The Michigan State Prison, Jackson 1837-1928: 1928
The Nightkeeper's Reports 1882: 1954
The SPSM Trusty Division year book: an annual devoted to the betterment of the prison trusty: 1955
Year Book (other title Trusty Land): 1958, 1964
Kincheloe: Hiawatha Correctional Facility
Kincheloe: Kinross Correctional Facility
The Link: 1979-1991
The KCF Link: 1991-1992
Lansing: Industrial School for Boys
Bi-monthly Bulletin: 1893
Industrial Enterprise: 1904-1925
The Vocational Enterprise: 1925-1955
Lapeer: Thumb Regional Correction Facility
Thump Prints: 1987-1988
Marquette: Branch Prison
Marquette Inmate: 1933
The Beam: 1963
The Weekly Progress: 1960-1971
North Star: 1987-1994
Muskegon: Muskegon Correctional Facility
Plymouth: Phoenix Correctional Facility
Phoenix Voice: 1984-1989
St. Louis: Mid-Michigan Correctional Facility
St. Louis Blues: 1990-1992
Ypsilanti: Huron Valley Men's Facility
Huron Valley Monitor: 1984-1987
Ypsilanti: Huron Valley Women's Facility
D.A.W.N. / Determined Action for Women Now: 1984-1987
For Further Reading
Baird, Russell N., The Penal Press.
MAIN PN4888 .P75 B2 1967
Franklin, H. Bruce, The Victim as Criminal and Artist.
REFERENCE Z1229 .P74 F7 1982
Richter, Andrew, ed., Through the Wall : Prison Correspondence.
MAIN HV8657 .T57z
Trupin, James E., In Prison: Writings and Poems About the Prison Experience.
MAIN HV8491 .T78