state:
Connecticut
Local history:
Digging Deep into the Carceral Past
What should tourists learn at a historic prison?
University of Connecticut
Exhibiting Partner:
Hartford Public Library and UConn Library at Hartford Public Library, Hartford, CT / Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Hartford Public Library: 500 Main Street | Thomas J. Dodd Research Center: 405 Babbidge Road, Unit 1205
March 11, 2019April 18, 2019

Stay tuned!

States of Incarceration is coming to New York, West Virginia, and North Carolina in Spring 2020!

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Connecticut: Digging Deep into the Carceral Past
What should tourists learn at a historic prison?
University of Connecticut

Located in East Granby, the “Old Newgate Prison and Copper Mine” was incorporated as a mine in 1705. After being abandoned for two decades, the old shafts were designated the colony’s first prison in 1773. Those incarcerated at Newgate were required to work the mine and confined underground the rest of the time. New forms of labor were introduced over time—all on the surface—while prisoners remained confined below at night. During the Revolution, loyalists were incarcerated there. In 1790, Newgate became the nation’s first state prison. Following its closure in 1827 and several failed attempts at restarting the mine through the 1840s, Newgate became a tourist destination run by private owners until it was purchased by the state and designated a historic site in 1968. Why was a mine presumed a good place for incarceration, prison labor, and tourism?

Our Point of View

As new undergraduate history majors, we came to this project through a course devoted to learning how to become historians. Most of us were unfamiliar with the histories and contemporary issues of incarceration in the U.S. and Connecticut going into the class. In researching Newgate, we were struck by continuities, including the disproportionate incarceration of poor and non-white people, prison labor, and the desires of the non-incarcerated to see and experience the prison.

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Connecticut: Digging Deep into the Carceral Past    University of Connecticut
What should tourists learn at a historic prison?
Connecticut: Digging Deep into the Carceral Past
What should tourists learn at a historic prison?
  University of Connecticut

National Exhibition Venue    Hartford Public Library and UConn Library at Hartford Public Library, Hartford, CT / Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

Public Dialogues and Events
| March 11 – April 18, 2019

See Full Exhibition & Events Schedule
“I am a public defender. Everyday, I see the profound and devastating effects of our oppressive system in which judges and prosecutors use incarceration to threaten people to give up their constitutional rights and plead guilty.”  — Exhibition Visitor
“Thank you for the excellent exhibit - the powerful art and words. How can each of us do something to make things better? What ways can we come together across our differences to create what’s good for most of us, not just a few.”  — Exhibition Visitor

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