In response to a petition from the Board of Prison Inspectors of Allegheny County, who were concerned with the rising costs of maintaining prisoners at the county jail in increasingly crowded conditions, the state legislature in 1866 authorized the construction of a workhouse in Allegheny County. The Allegheny County Work House and Inebriate Asylum at Claremont (Blawnox) admitted its first inmates in 1869, two years before the buildings and wall were completed. The Work House was officially closed in 1971.


Discharge Descriptive Dockets, 1873-1971. A record of prisoners discharged from the Allegheny County Work House. Information includes the prisoner’s name, number and dates received and discharged; age; race (white, mulatto, or black), and gender; date sentenced, crime committed, how discharged (expiration of sentence, commutation, order of the court, escaped, paroled, or died); time served, occupation and amount earned in prison; and remarks. The records are arranged by discharge number.

Escaped Prisoners Books, 1882-1971. A record of prisoners who escaped from the Allegheny County Work House generally providing escapee’s name, time in prison, and offense. For the years 1921-1946 information given also includes prisoner’s age, complexion, color (Negro, white, or black), hair and eye color, height and weight; occupation; marital status; sentence, term and offense; time served in prison; and date escaped. The records are indexed alphabetically by surname of prisoner.

Register to Include All Prisoners Tried and Sentenced to Hard Labor Books, 1869-1971. A documentation of prisoners who were tried by the courts and sentenced to hard labor at the Allegheny County Work House. Information provided includes each prisoner’s name; date received at the prison; age, race, complexion, color of hair and eyes, and height; marital status; parental relations (both parents living or dead at age sixteen or mother or father living or dead at age sixteen); education (whether able to read or write); type of schools attended (public or private); age on leaving school, never went to school, whether attended Sunday school; whether apprenticed; occupation before conviction and during prison term; habits (abstinent, moderate drinker, occasionally intemperate, or intemperate); military service; term of sentence; court and county where tried; number or convictions; how discharged; and remarks.


Reports, 1873, 1879-99, 1924. Annual reports of the Allegheny County Work House. Information includes the manager’s report; superintendent’s report, and financial and statistical tables. One of the tables shows the number of colored males and females admitted to the workhouse for the year.

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