Ware Prison Drawing at Pennsylvania State Archives

Sharing the Common Wealth showcases objects, artifacts, documents, structures and buildings from the collections of PHMC.

One of the more unusual governmental records safeguarded by the Pennsylvania State Archives, observing its centennial in 2003, is a statistical record kept between 1893 and 1896 by inmate number 5932 at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary. The ledger was elaborately embellished with calligraphy, vignettes, and drawings – many of them crime-related – by Sidney Ware, an Englishman, who had been convicted of murdering, in 1890, Morris Miller, one of two men killed in a tavern fight in Lykens, in northern Dauphin County. Ware had been condemned to be hanged, but his sentence was commuted to life in prison, and he entered Eastern State in 1891 at the age of twenty-two. A model prisoner, he was entrusted by the warden to maintain the prison’s statistical records, in which his artistic talents shone brightly.