The article is devoted to Elizabeth Fry, the British social activist and the reformer of British prison system. The group of politically active Protestant Quakers, which included Fry’s family, had a great influence on the approval of new humanistic principles of criminal justice and the institutionalization of prison charity in Britain. The Quakers were first to talk about punishment as a means of re-education of a convicted person through religion and education. The paper is based on the analysis of a unique historical source not translated into Russian – Thomas Buxton’s “An inquiry, whether crime and misery are produced or prevented by our present system of prison discipline” (1818). A review of the first years of Fry’s philanthropic activity in the largest prison in London is presented. The author states that Fry formulated basic principles for the reform of women's prisons: the classification of convicts, women's supervision, organization of work, and spiritual enlightenment. “The Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners” created by Fry wass acknowledged as the first national women's organization; the experience of matrons was borrowed to many European countries.
Key words: Elizabeth Fry, British prison reform, the Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline and for the Reformation of Juvenile Offenders, Quakers.