Evening Roll Call on Coiba Island

ID: SIA2010-0507 and Wetmore # 6075

Creator: Wetmore, Alexander 1886-

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: January 22, 1956

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Alexander Wetmore Papers, Record Unit 7006, Box: 183, Folder Album: Panama and Coiba, 1956

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The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact photos@si.edu.
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Convicts of the Penal Colony on Coiba Island, Panama, are lined up in two lines for evening roll call. A wall of a building can be seen along the right side of the road and another building of the penal colony compound is on the left behind one row of the convicts. The image was taken by Smithsonian Secretary Alexander Wetmore while on a scientific expedition in Panama to Coiba Island, while completing field work for his four volume work, The Birds of Panama.


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


From 1919 to 1991, Coiba Island, Panama, was a penal colony. Fear of the prison and its inmates deterred visitors from the island; thus some 80% of the natural areas on the island remain undisturbed. The island is also host to many endemic species. Both of these factors made the island ideal for Alexander Wetmore's scientific expedition. The officers and convicts pictured in Wetmore's images from the expedition were part of the penal colony. Some even worked as laborers for the expedition. Today, the island is no longer a penal colony. Instead, it is one of 38 islands composing Coiba Island National Park, a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage site.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Alexander Wetmore Papers, Record Unit 7006, Box: 183, Folder Album: Panama and Coiba, 1956

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


January 22, 1956

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Correctional institutions
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Landscapes
  • Architecture
  • Reformatories
  • School field trips
  • Islands
  • Penal colonies
  • Prisoners
  • Field trips
  • Panamanians
  • Buildings--Panama


  • Panama
  • Coiba Island (Panama)


  • Photographic print
  • Landscape
  • Group, candid

ID Number

SIA2010-0507 and Wetmore # 6075

Physical description

Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 4.75 x 4.5; Type of Image: Group, candid; Landscape; Medium: Photographic print

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