Content of Records
This guide describes more than 300 records series comprising approximately 4,000 cubic feet of records. Most of the records described relate to inmates and programs at major correctional facilities and the facilities that preceded them. The records date from 1797 to about 1980, most dating from the 20th century. The majority of records relate to programs at maximum security prisons for male felons, which is the largest segment of the inmate population confined in New York. In addition, there are records from nearly all other types of correctional facilities including male reformatories, female reformatories and prisons, juvenile reformatories, facilities for defective delinquents, and hospitals for the criminally insane. The majority of the records described in the guide are administrative and operational records, inmate case files, records containing summary information on inmates, and inmate psychological and health records. The records are usually arranged numerically by inmate number, alphabetically by last name, or chronologically.
Administrative records include: warden or superintendent annual reports and correspondence and subject files, financial records such as account ledgers, disbursement journals, and invoice files relating to construction, salaries, and institutional purchase of food, supplies and other items; and records relating to prison industries such as expense and sales journals. Many operational records pertain to general activities of confining inmates including officer watch logs, daily and weekly census reports on the inmate population, inmate infraction and punishment journals, and records of inmate escapes.
Inmate case files comprise nearly two thirds of the records described in the guide. They consist of a wide variety of records documenting in great detail the background, crimes, confinement, and parole of over 80,000 men and women in New York State correctional facilities during the past 100 years.
Records providing summary information on inmates include receiving ledgers, biographical registers, and receiving blotters that contain a detailed summary of each inmate's physical description, family background, criminal history, and present crime and sentence. Also included are discharge ledgers that provide additional information on the inmate's confinement and release. Inmate record cards and inmate assignment records contain information on work assignments and academic and vocational training during confinement. Parole registers document inmate release, parole, and activity during parole.
Records relating to inmates' mental and physical health and treatment during confinement include reports of psychiatric and psychological examinations that were used to evaluate inmates to ensure proper level of confinement and placement in academic and vocational training programs. Also included in the records are logs and journals maintained by institutional physicians and nurses relating to inmate treatment and hospital and surgery registers documenting special inmate treatments.
Other records described in the guide include special case files and logs of actions pertaining to executions, registers of visitors, chaplains' registers, registers of items provided to inmates, and copies of inmate newspapers.