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Charles F. Coffin collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: S3467

Scope and Contents

This collection contains four sets of typewritten transcriptions of Charles F. Coffin's notes and letters regarding his observations of prisons, reformatories, and "Asylums for the Insane" in Europe. The first section of each set consist of seven letters he wrote to Indiana Governor Albert G. Porter in the summer of 1883 regarding his visits to institutions in France, England, Ireland, and Scotland and two letters sent to the editor of the Christian Worker responding to an invitation to give an account of his travels. The second section consists of notes he took during his 1871-1872 trip to visit prisons and reformatories in Ireland, England, France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany. He recorded his observations regarding the inmates' care, including diet, clothing, housing, occupations, and punishment. Also included are a number of letters he sent to the Indianapolis Journal, the Richmond Telegram, and the Indiana Radical that discuss some of the prisons he visited and also share his sightseeing ventures in Naples, Vienna, Jerusalem, and other Middle Eastern locations during his 1871-1872 trip.


  • 1871-1872, 1883

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Biographical note

Charles Fisher Coffin was born on April 3, 1823 in Guilford County, North Carolina, the second child of Elijah and Naomi Coffin. His family moved to Wayne County, Indiana in 1824 and settled near Milton. His father later became the clerk of the Richmond branch of the State Bank of Indiana and Charles began working at the bank when he was 12 years old. He continued in the banking industry as an adult and was one of the founders of the Richmond National Bank. He was a Quaker and served as clerk of the Indiana Yearly Meeting for 27 years and helped found the South Eighth Street Meeting in Richmond. He married Rhonda Johnson in 1847 and they had six children. The Coffins were active in prison work and reform and were responsible for the erection of the Indiana Prison for Women, the first of its kind in the country. Following the loss of their small fortune in the Panic of 1884, they moved to Chicago and Mr. Coffin passed away there at the age of 93 on August 9, 1916.


"Charles Coffin, Early Banker, dies in Chicago." Richmond Palladium (IN), August 10, 1916.

"Charles F. Coffin, Age 93, Vicitm of the Heat." Indianapolis News (IN), August 10, 1916.

Johnson, Mary Coffin and Percival Brooks Coffin. Charles F. Coffin: A Quaker Pioneer. Richmond, Ind.: Nicholson Printing Company, 1923.


0.04 Cubic Feet (4 folders)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged by subject.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation from the Indiana State Department of Public Welfare. on 1939/03/11.


No further additions are expected.

Related Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

S0278: Women's Prison and Girls' Reformatory collection

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in the Genealogy Collection, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN:

G-079: Percival Brooks Coffin collection

Processing Information

Collection processing completed and EAD finding aid created 2019/12/04 by Laura Eliason.
Charles F. Coffin collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.