C. INSTITUTIONAL RECORDS
NEW YORK HOUSE OF REFUGE
The New York House of Refuge was the first juvenile reformatory in the nation. It was operated by the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in the City of New York. Although the House of Refuge was privately managed, the State of New York was involved from the beginning in organizing, funding, establishing inmate commitment procedures, and developing treatment programs. The reformatory opened January 1, 1825. The Laws of 1826, Chapter 24, authorized courts statewide to commit juveniles convicted of crimes or adjudicated as vagrants to the reformatory. Originally, the institution accepted inmates from across the State, but after establishment of the Western House of Refuge in 1849, inmates came only from the first, second, and third judicial districts. The reformatory had the authority to bind out inmates through indenture agreements by which employers agreed to supervise them during their employment. Most male and female inmates were sent to work as farm or domestic laborers. This indenture work was stopped during the 1890s.
At the turn of the century, the Female Division was transferred to the new House of Refuge for Women in Bedford. In 1929, boys under sixteen were authorized to be sent to the State Training School for Boys at Warwick and, in 1932, inmates 16 to 19 years of age were authorized to be sent to the New York State Vocational Institution at Coxsackie. In 1935, the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents dissolved and the institution closed.
A2051. Minutes of the Board of Managers, 1857-1935. 4 cu. ft. (13 volumes) (4 microfilm reels)
These are minutes of monthly, annual, and special meetings of the Managers of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents. Typical contents are resolutions, lists of audited bills, financial summaries, reports, and resolutions.
A2053. Committee reports to the Board of Managers, 1857-1889. .3 cu. ft. (2 volumes) (1 microfilm reel)
These reports to the Board of Managers contain summary information from various institution committees including Indenturing, Theatre, School, Building, and Classification.
A2091. Minutes of the Visiting Committee, 1844-1893. .3 cu. ft. (1 volume) (1 microfilm reel)
These are reports of weekly inspection tours by the Visiting Committee and include information on inmate illness and death, staff activities, conditions of facilities, and the condition of discipline.
A2057. Ladies' Committee minutes, 1825-1831 and 1855-1893. 1 cu. ft. (2 volumes) (1 microfilm reel)
These minutes usually discuss the Committee's visits and its observations on the conditions of facilities, clothing, food, discipline, and inmate education and health.
A2059. Building Committee minutes, 1851-1861. .1 cu. ft. (1 volume) (1 microfilm reel)
These committee minutes provide such information as estimates for construction, abstracts of bids, bills for expenses, and construction progress reports.
A2058. School Committee minutes, 1855-1916. .1 cu. ft. (3 volumes) (1 microfilm reel)
These minutes of meetings and reports of weekly visits include information on hiring and compensation of staff, provision for religious instruction, and recording of pupil punishment.
A2092. Indenturing Committee meeting minutes, 1827-1839 and 1861-1913. 4 cu. ft. (12 volumes) (3 microfilm reels)
These minutes document activity of the committee that reviewed matters concerning inmate apprenticeships. They include information on rules of apprenticeships, review of applications from prospective masters, reasons for approving or denying applications, and review of apprentice conduct reports.
A2071. Chaplain's reports to the Indenturing Committee, 1863-1874, 1892. 3 cu. ft. (1 volume) (1 microfilm reel)
These brief reports were made by Protestant chaplains who served for many years as parole agents for the reformatory. They summarize visits made to apprentices and document the activities of the master and the apprentice.
A2093. Special reports to the Executive Committee, 1901-1909. 2 cu. ft. (5 volumes)
These reports were submitted by the superintendent to the Committee and contain information on reformatory employees, new legislation affecting the House of Refuge, progress of construction and repairs, and discipline of inmates.
A2060. Minutes of Reception and Parole Committee, 1921-1929. .3 cu. ft. (3 volumes)
These minutes summarize the committee's consideration of parole in regard to new inmates, inmates eligible for parole, inmates applying for parole, and inmates violating parole.
A2061. Managers' facility inspection reports, 1897-1902. .2 cu. ft. (2 volumes)
These reports concern the condition of shops, dormitories, hospital facilities, other buildings, and of the inmates at the institution.
A2052. Minutes of the Acting Committee, 1824-1935. 4 cu. ft. (13 volumes)
These minutes relate to the institution's maintenance, finances, and employment. Included are routine inmate census data including numbers of males, females, whites, African-Americans, and those in different divisions.
A2063. Register of honorary members of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents, 1874-1885. .1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This is a list of several dozen persons elected by the Board of Managers as honorary members of the Society.
A2081. Proceedings relating to the dissolution of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents in the City of New York, 1935. .1 cu. ft.
These are meeting minutes and related records documenting the dissolution of the Society following the closing of the House of Refuge and the transfer of inmates to the New York State Vocational Institution.
A2054. Superintendent's daily journals, 1825-1935. 9 cu. ft. (29 volumes) (12 microfilm reels)
These journals include information on admission, indenture, and discharge of inmates, on inmate deaths and escapes, and on special meetings and events.
A2055. Daily journal of the city office, 1876-1880. .3 cu. ft. (1 volume) (1 microfilm reel)
Daily journal entries from the Manhattan office of the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents include names of persons visiting, corresponding with, or requesting information about inmates.
A2075. Visitors' registers, 1864-1883, 1901-1935. 1 cu. ft. (2 volumes)
These registers contain the name and city, state or country of residence of each visitor to the House of Refuge. Visitors included members of the State legislature and State agencies, corrections officials, educators, and others interested in the institution's program.
A2076. Testimony and reports relating to special investigations, 1902-1911. 1 cu. ft.
This series contains testimony and supporting documentation pertaining to investigations into conditions at the institution held in 1902, 1903, 1908, and 1911.
A2078. Scrapbooks, 1892-1925. 1 cu. ft. (5 volumes)
These scrapbooks consist mostly of clippings concerning conditions at the House of Refuge and at prisons throughout the United States.
A2062. Register of employees, 1851-1918. .1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This register tracks the hiring, salary, performance, and departure of officials and employees of the institution. For each employee, the register provides name, position, salary, character, and reason for leaving.
A2079. Receipt book for employees' wages, 1844-1869. .1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This volume, kept for the institution's accounting purposes, documents the payment of wages to institution employees.
A3188. Payroll register, 1905-1917. .2 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This contains date, employee name and position, and the amount paid.
A3186. Registers of audited bills, 1909-1933. .7 cu. ft. (3 volumes)
These volumes document the institution's expenses. Entries provide bill number, name of payee, amount of bill, date, and total amount of bills for each month.
A2083. Instructions for inmates working in offices, 1908. .1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This volume contains instructions for inmates working as clerks regarding their duties and responsibilities.
A3187. Hospital admission registers, 1855-1865, 1911-1935. 2 cu. ft. (7 volumes)
These registers track the health and medical treatment of inmates and were the source for compiling the physician's monthly and annual reports. The volumes provide admission date, inmate number and age, physical condition, treatment, name of physician, and discharge date.
A2073. Industrial Department cash book, 1888-1900. .2 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This volume records payments made by the Industrial Department and receipts generated by its industries. Information concerning receipts includes balance at beginning of each week, from whom payment was received, goods or services for which payment was made, and total payments for each type of service. Information concerning disbursements includes the date, number of warrant for payment, amount paid and balance.
A2072. Registers of Industrial Department audited bills, 1888-1900. .4 cu. ft. (2 volumes)
These volumes, kept for auditing purposes, document expenses of the Industrial Department.
A2080. Dispensary record, 1915-1934. 1.3 cu. ft. (8 volumes)
This record, tracking the health and medical treatment of inmates, was a source for compiling the physician's monthly and annual reports. The volumes provide the inmate name and number, date admitted to dispensary, physical condition, treatment, name of physician, and remarks.
A2074. Steward's record of receipts and disbursements of supplies, 1920-1931. 1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
The institution's steward kept these records to track the receipt and distribution of the institution's equipment and supplies.
A2070. Parole agents' daily reports, 1894-1915. ca. 4 cu. ft. (22 volumes)
These volumes track the progress of paroled inmates and contain daily entries summarizing contacts with parolees and their families and employers. These provide name of parolee, address, names of persons interviewed, relatives' comments, name of employer, and the employer's comments relating to the parole.
A2085. Contracts for labor, goods, and services, 1826-1895. .2 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This volume contains contracts for inmate labor or for supplying goods or services to the institution. For inmate labor, the contracts include name of employer, type of work, number of inmates to be employed, and amount of payment. For goods and services, the contracts provides name of provider, position or service, and amount of payment.
A2077. Annual inventories of property, 1911-1934. .7 cu. ft. (13 volumes)
The institution's steward compiled these inventories of all types of moveable property and their values in offices, shops, and other areas of the institution. Each inventory lists the building, hall or room, type of property, quantity on hand, value, and total value of property.
A2082. Receipt book for construction of new House of Refuge on Randall's Island, 1852-1855. .1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
These receipts document expenses for the construction of new buildings and related facilities of the institution. Expenditures documented include plans, surveys, grading and excavating, brick and stone work, etc.
A3254. Audited accounts for new construction, 1861-1862. .1 cu. ft. (1 volume)
This volume tracks expenditures for construction of new buildings at the House of Refuge. For each building, information provided includes date of payment, to whom payment was paid, and amount of payment.
A2090. Annual reports and miscellaneous publications, 1829, 1831, 1834-1932. 2 cu. ft. (35 volumes)
In addition to annual reports to the State legislature, these publications relating to the House of Refuge include rules and regulations, laws, bylaws, proceedings of conventions, and pamphlets on a variety of issues.
A2089. Miscellaneous published material, 1826-1921. 17 cu. ft. (109 volumes)
This material includes printed reports of juvenile reformatories in the U.S., Great Britain, and France and copies of printed proceedings of national conferences on prisons and reformatories.
A2087. Register of inmates admitted and discharged, 1859-1882. .2 cu. ft. (1 volume) (1 microfilm reel)
This volume provides summary information concerning each inmate's background, offense, and manner of discharge. The admission information includes inmate name, date of admission, class, age, nature of offense, nativity, and ethnic/racial heritage of parents. Discharge information includes name and occupation of person indentured or discharged to, date of discharge, and additional remarks on the nature of the discharge.
A2088. Inmate admission registers, 1882-1932. 1 cu. ft. (3 volumes) (1 microfilm reel)
These volumes contain summary inmate admission information including county of residence, whether parents are living or dead, date of admission, division assigned to, race, nationality or ethnic group, and age. Some volumes also have notation of previous offenses and the physical size and religion of the inmate.
A2064. Inmate case histories, 1824-1935. 70 cu. ft. (106 volumes) (47 microfilm reels)
This is the main record for information about each male or female inmate admitted to the institution. Each case history is two to four pages long and contains information on each inmate such as age and place of birth; education; habits; criminal history; parents' names and addresses; description of home; parents' occupations; conduct after discharge; physical description; and circumstances of parole and recommittal.
An online finding aid is available.
A2084. Daily census of inmates, 1860-1935. 2 cu. ft. (9 volumes)
Information in these volumes generally includes date, name of division, number of boys, number of girls, and total number of inmates admitted and discharged in each division.
A2056. Girls' Division daily journals, 1861-1866, 1873-1896. 1.3 cu. ft. (4 volumes) (1 microfilm reel)
Kept by the Matron of the Girl's Division, these journals provide the names of inmates admitted, notes on inmate's background, crime, indenture, and discharge, and names of visitors.
A2065. School admission and discharge registers, 1882-1925. 1 cu. ft. (6 volumes)
These registers track the arrival, departure, and academic level of students in the institution's schools. Registers generally include admission date, schools previously attended, class, academic ability, and date discharged.
A2086. Pupils' record cards, 1928-1935. 1.7 cu. ft. (1,890 cards)
These cards document the school conduct and progress of inmates. They contain information on each inmate's previous education, length of time out of school, absences from classes, grades, etc.
A2067. Register of masters of indentured inmates, 1825-1845, 1860-1903. .4 cu. ft. (3 volumes) (1 microfilm reel)
These volumes list information about persons to whom reformatory inmates were bound out. Entries include master's name and address, occupation, and date of indenture agreement.
A2066. Indenture agreements, 1825-1904. 15 cu. ft. (39 volumes) (14 microfilm reels)
These volumes contain copies of contractual agreements between the reformatory managers, inmates, and masters to bind out inmates for fixed periods of indentured labor or apprenticeship.
A2068. Register of deferred applications for parole, 1860-1891. .3 cu. ft. (1 volume) (1 microfilm reel)
This volume contains summary information about parole applications that were denied by the Parole Committee. Each entry lists the inmates's name, date parole requested, date eligible to reapply, and committee determination.
A2069. Parole registers, 1882-1933. 1 cu. ft. (3 volumes) (2 microfilm reels)
These volumes contain summary information concerning inmates' discharge and parole/indenture history. The information includes inmate name, school division, class, religion, race, reason for discharge, to whom discharged, occupation during previous indenture, and length of time at the House of Refuge.
A3255. Intercepted letters to an inmate, 1924. .1 cu. ft.
These are carbon typescript transcripts of one inmate's incoming correspondence, almost all written by one person. In the letters, a friend of the inmate discusses criminal behavior, arrests, and social activities.