One can surmise that this pecular head gear would have made sleeping horizontally most difficult, if not impossible. Even seated on the floor in a corner, attempting to rest one's head where the walls meet would seem a challenge while wearing this device.

In today's institutions, various forms of head gear are used to deal with specific problem inmates such as head bangers, spitters, bitters, and sharp-eyed escape artists being transported, etc.

The design of this 19th Century device does not seem fitted to any such purpose. Rather it appears designed just to be a cumbersome burden during the day and a sleep depriver at night.

The bars of the Iron Cage being placed on the inmate's head point to an overly-large wall clock that dwarfs the other objects in the illustration. The clock displays the time as approximately 23 minutes to 11. If that's p.m., why are the inmates out of their cells? Since inmates would normally be in their locked cells without light at an earlier hour of the evening, perhaps the point of the clock in the picture could possibly be to underscore that these inmates, having violated some institutional rule after lock-in, had been taken from their cells and were receiving the sleep-deprivation devices as punishment.

The Iron Cage image from promo card for Ron Arons' lecture The Jews of Sing Sing at Temple

NYCHS webmaster notes beneath image.

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NYCHS board member Judy Berdy, who is administrator at the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El, suggested NYCHS website readers might be interested in the subject matter of Ron Arons' April 25 lecture sponsored by the Bernard Museum of Judaica & Stettenheim Library at Temple Emanu-El.

Judy also is president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.

This presentation is a follow-up on her suggestion.

Elizabeth F. Stabler, Temple Emanu-El librarian, provided the photo postcard announcing the lecture.

Ron Arons, who designed the postcard, took the photos of the guard tower and Cell Block A. He credits the "illustrations of the various tortures" and the electric chair photo to "the Ossining Community Center."

The format for this web presentation was designed by the NYCHS webmaster whose own research notes appear on the left below the image.