The records of the Department of Correctional Services are among the most important materials available for research at the New York State Archives. From its beginning, New York State was a leader in innovative programs in penology. It established the first juvenile reformatory, the first reformatories for adult males and females, and the most influential early state prison for men. These and other facilities established correctional practices that were replicated in numerous other states throughout the country. The records of New York correctional facilities comprise a unique resource for examining the development of these practices and the lives of tens of thousands of men and women confined in these facilities during the past two centuries.
This guide describes in detail records of the Department of Correctional Services available for research at the New York State Archives. In addition, it lists records series from the New York State Agricultural and Industrial School, a juvenile reformatory opened in 1849 and currently operated by the Division for Youth. Most of the records were created at 16 correctional facilities representing the major types of correctional facilities in the State. Nearly 4,000 cubic feet of records are described in the guide. In addition to descriptions, the guide includes unique histories that trace the development and current functions of each facility. More extensive descriptions of each of these record series are available at the State Archives.
Use of a number of record series is restricted to protect the personal privacy of inmates confined in the State's correctional facilities. Access to these restricted records may be permitted under certain conditions upon application to and approval by the State Archives.
This guide was prepared by Senior Archivist Richard Andress.