TUSC Prison Newspapers Online

Tulane University Special Collections (TUSC) recently participated in a project to scan prison newspapers from across the country and make them freely available online. TUSC’s growing collection of Louisiana Prison Newspapers spans The Angola Argus (1940) to the present, and Reveal Digital, sponsor of the project, invited Special Collections to participate because TUSC’s extensive Louisiana prison newspaper holdings contain several that are the only known copies. 

Titles TUSC contributed to the national project include The Angola Argus, Angola Prison Rodeo, and The Angolite (Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola), The Chainlink Chronicle (Washington Correctional Institute), The Dixon Digest and Straight-Low Magazine (Dixon Correctional Institute), Genesis (New Orleans Work Training Facility), The Insider (Louisiana Correctional and Industrial School), and Walk Talk (Hunt Correctional Facility). In total, Special Collections loaned approximately fifteen linear feet of prison newspapers to the project.  

American Prison Newspapers 1800–2020: Voices from the Inside digitized prison newspapers from nearly every US state and made them freely available on an open access (OA) basis. These are a vital body of research publications that will be heavily used not only by students and scholars, but also by legislators, government officials, administrators, and the public to learn about the prison experience directly from the incarcerated. In particular, TUSC’s participation in the project allows the Louisiana prison experience to be far more accessible to researchers from around the world and to be compared and contrasted with prison experiences from other parts of the country, all at no cost to the researcher. 

The focus of many prison newspapers is to provide information to inmates, but they are also often outlets for a wide range of creative expression, including essays, short fiction, poetry, and art. Louisiana’s award-winning Angolite is one of the most influential prison newspapers in the country and covers topics such as the death penalty, mass incarceration, sexual violence in prisons, the aging prison population, the brutality of forced labor, and the social costs of various prison policies. Such articles allow prisoners to hope to have some impact on the world beyond their walls.


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