The Indiana Women’s Prison History Project grew out of a college program founded in 2012 by Kelsey Kauffman. The Project allows incarcerated students to pursue original, graduate-level research, and has resulted in numerous conference presentations and publications (see the links below for more information).
Project participants (some now released from IWP or transferred to other correctional facilities) have investigated interlocking topics related to prison history and women’s history, the history of medicine and eugenics, and the study of gender, sexuality, and criminality. They’ve aimed to bring lived experience to historical scholarship, and to use historical analysis to understand current issues in the criminal justice system.
I joined in January 2018, and play several roles as a historical consultant. As a research assistant, I retrieve primary and secondary sources for the Project, including documents from local archives and repositories. As an instructor, I run a seminar – we call it a feminar – on the fundamentals of historical interpretation. Finally, I read the scholars’ written work and make suggestions for improvement.
Since January my cohort at IWP, comprised of seven women, has been focusing on networks of carceral institutions in Indiana in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, including the Indiana Women’s Prison, the Girls’ School, the House of the Good Shepherd, and the Fort Wayne School for the Feeble-Minded.
Learn more about the History Project: