Plan of Alcatraz Prison Towers at the Dock and Power House, 1940
Fifty years ago today, the Federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed on March 21, 1963. Acquired by the Department of Justice in 1933, the federal prison opened in 1934. Over the course of its years in operation, the prison hosted such infamous figures as Al Capone, Robert Stroud (aka The Birdman), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Rafael Cancel Miranda. These plans for prison towers at the dock and power house were part of the overall modernization of the prison facilities undertaken in 1940.
Photograph of John Welshouse Affixed to Bertillon Measurement Card
The Bertillon Card for John Welshouse, an inmate of the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, states he was examined on January 26, 1914. A system of physical identification pre-dating the use of fingerprints, Bertillon Measurements used anthropometrics, such as the length and width of the head and the degree of forehead slope to create an individual’s unique profile. Welshouse’s file indicates that he was convicted in New Orleans, Louisiana for violation of the White Slave Act, although his sentence was later commuted.