Excerpt from Reports of the Prison Discipline Society, 1855.

Sing Sing Prison, originally known as New York State Prison at Mount Pleasant, was founded to relieve overcrowding at other state prisons.


Excerpt from The Evening Post, New York, NY. Monday, July 30, 1832.

The cholera epidemic reached Sing Sing resulting in 376 cases and 103 deaths, out of a total population of 939 men.


Portrait of John Worth Edmonds from Portraits of Eminent Americans Now Living, Volume 2, 1853.

 John Edmonds founded the Prison Association of New York to advocate for people in prison. It is now known as the Correctional Association of New York.


Exterior of Mount Pleasant Female Prison, Courtesy of Ossining Historical Society Museum.

Due to economic concerns, Mount Pleasant Female Prison closed.


Photograph of men incarcerated at Sing Sing Prison standing in lockstep before going to work by G.W. Pach, Courtesy of New York Public Library.

Under pressure from both prison reformers and labor unions, New York State abolished the contract labor system.


Postcard from the Sing Sing Prison Mutual Welfare League, Sing Sing Prison Museum, Generously donated by Lithgow Osborne.

The Mutual Welfare League was established at Sing Sing Prison. It was a system of prisoner self-management with its own “inmate court” and currency.


Portrait of Lewis E. Lawes, Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Lewis E. Lawes began his 21-year tenure as warden. He authored Twenty-Thousand Years in Sing Sing and invited Warner Brothers Studios to film multiple movies at Sing Sing.


Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage and sentenced to death in 1953, Courtesy of Library of Congress.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by electric chair. They were the only American civilians executed during the Cold War.


Image courtesy of David Hoffman.

B.B. King and Joan Baez performed a Thanksgiving Day concert at Sing Sing. The event was documented by the incarcerated men and director David Hoffman.


Excerpt from Gannet Westchesters Newspapers, Siege in Ossining, January 10, 1983.

Incarcerated men in Sing Sing’s B Block held 19 employees hostage after months of nonviolent protests. Negotiators reached a peaceful resolution.


President Bill Clinton hugs Senator Joseph Biden on September 13, 1994, during a signing ceremony for the crime bill on the South Lawn of the White House, Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images.

Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act into law. While it has a complicated legacy, many believe it contributed to the rise in mass incarceration.


Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison Graduating Class of 2017, Photo by Babita Patel for Hudson Link.

Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison was founded at Sing Sing. It continues to provide college education and reentry support to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.



The Sing Sing Prison Museum was founded. Its mission is to both share the complex history of Sing Sing and challenge us all to create a more just society.


Lithograph of Alexis de Tocqueville by Theodore Chasseriau, 1848, Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont visited on their national tour. They later wrote “On the Penitentiary System in the United States and its Application to France.“


"Female Convicts, Sing Sing Prison" by G. W/ Pach, 1860 - 1869, Courtesy of New York Public Library.

Mount Pleasant Female Prison opened at Sing Sing.


Map of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad and its connections, 1885, Courtesy of Stanford Libraries.

The Hudson River Railroad, which passes through Sing Sing, began transporting passengers.


"The electrocuting chair", Courtesy of New York Public Library.

Harris Smiler, James Slocum, Joseph Wood, and Shibuya Jugiro were the first to be executed by electric chair at Sing Sing.


Star of Hope, July 1916 issue, Sing Sing Prison Museum, Generously donated by Lithgow Osborne.

Men incarcerated at Sing Sing publish the first Star of Hope newspaper. The periodical contained articles on health, sports, editorials, poetry, and news briefs.


Photograph of cellblock interior published in Bits of 1926 Souvenir Program, Sing Sing Prison Museum, Generously donated by Lithgow Osborne.

Governor Whitman ordered the closure of the old cellblock, but the last person did not leave until 1943.


Sing Sing Prison Museum, 2019.01.01.

Babe Ruth and the New York Yankees played an exhibition game against the Mutual Welfare League baseball team. Residents of the town were invited to watch.


The Electric Chair at Sing Sing Prison, 1940, Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images.

Eddie Mays was the last person executed by New York State. However, the death penalty was not abolished.


Photo of Governor Nelson Rockefeller by Thomas J. O'Halloran, Courtesy of Library of Congress.

The Rockefeller Drug Laws were enacted in New York. They mandated new sentences for people convicted of felony drug charges.


Photo courtesy of A. Wolpinsky.

A fire destroyed the roof of the old cellblock.


Macbeth played by Dario Pena at Sing Sing Correctional Facility with the Rehabilitation Through the Arts program, Photo by Robert Sabo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images.

Katherine Vockins founded Rehabilitation Through the Arts at Sing Sing. It has since expanded to other New York correctional facilities.


Cover of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindess by Michelle Alexander, 10th Anniversary Edition, 2020.

New York State’s prison population reached almost 73,000, twice the number in 1985. More than half of those incarcerated were people of color.


Returning citizen, Anthony Blanks, celebrates his homecoming from Sing Sing Correctional Facility, Photo by Pamela Hayes. Courtesy of Sing Sing Family Collective.

New York State’s prison population was 32,000, less than half the number of 2002. More than 65% of those incarcerated were people of color.