Issac T. Hopper Project

Illustration of Isaac T. Hopper

Isaac T. Hopper served as the chairman of the Committee on Discharged Convicts for the New York Prison Association from 1845 until 1852, when at age 81, illness forced him to resign his post. As one of only a few paid agents of the association, Hopper kept an office in New York City to receive people discharged from prison and to dispense aid necessary to get them on their feet. Hopper explained in the Second Report of the New York Association (1845) that he was required to keep a diary, “in which he is to enter all applications which are made at the office, with a brief account of the person and his career, whether his application is granted or denied, and if granted, in what manner he is aided; which diary is laid before, and read to the Executive Committee, at every meeting.” Hopper kept the diary diligently during his tenure as the Prison Association’s agent, and after seven years, the diary ran over 500 pages, full of detailed accounts of the many people he encountered as he performed his duties. 

This website offers readers full access to the diary in its original form with transcription.

The original is housed in the Manuscripts and Archives Division, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, New York Public Library, New York, NY. The digital version was produced at the New York Public Library, funded by the Elizabeth Margaret Vilas History Department Fund (St. Lawrence University).
The diary was transcribed by students at St. Lawrence University who took a class entitled “Doing History” in which they devoted a semester to reading and transcribing the diary and immersing themselves into Hopper’s world. In addition, student editors of the website have worked on transcription and editing the contents of the website. 

Project team