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Harriet DeGarmo Fuller papers, 1852-1857

4 volumes

The Harriet DeGarmo Fuller papers consist of four bound volumes of records and eight miscellaneous receipts of the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society, kept between 1852 and 1856, when Harriet DeGarmo Fuller was a member of the executive committee of the Society.

The Fuller papers consist of four bound volumes of records and eight miscellaneous receipts of the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society, kept between 1852 and 1856, when Harriet DeGarmo Fuller was a member of the executive committee of the Society. Together, these books form an important and detailed picture of the formation and early activity of the Society, with a record of their official resolutions, activities and expenditures. The Fuller Papers provide a unique insight into the inner workings of one of the most important state-level Garrisonian antislavery societies.

Volume 1 (26 pp.) contains the resolutions of the Michigan State Anti-Slavery Convention at Adrian, held on October 16th, 1852 (recording the formation of the State Central Committee), along with minutes from the State Central Committee meetings through September 23, 1853. The volume appears to be entirely in the hand of recording secretary, Jacob Walton of Adrian. The Central Committee appears to have served as a springboard to membership in the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society, as each of the members of the Central Committee assumed prominent roles in the M.A.S.S.

Volumes 2 and 3 are daybooks of the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society, 1853-1856. Volume 2 (115 pp., many blank) contains the general accounts of the Society during this period, while Vol. 3 (33 pp.) contains detailed, itemized records of donations, pledges, and expenditures at antislavery fairs held at Adrian, Fairfield, Battle Creek, Livonia and other cities, as well as pledges made to antislavery agents between these events. These volumes provide an intricate depiction of the fundraising activities of a state-level Garrisonian organization, its resources, contributors and participants.

Volume 4 is a ledger (77 pp.) including the Constitution and bye-laws of the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society, minutes of the monthly meetings of its executive committee, and the minutes and resolutions of its annual meetings from October 22, 1853-January 5, 1857. The ledger is a remarkable record of a radical antislavery group founded to act upon deeply-held moral beliefs, and includes records of the convention at which the Society was founded, as well as its first three annual meetings. These brief entries provide insight into the minds of self-professed social radicals and glimpse into the inner workings and debates of the Society.

The Recording Secretaries of the Michigan Anti-Slavery Society included: Ann Hayball (1853 October-1854 October); Eliphalet Jones (1854 October-1855 October; Ann Hayball often acted as Secretary pro tem.); Jacob Walton (1855 October-1856 October); and Harriet DeGarmo Fuller (1856 October-?). Each contributed to the records in this collection.


Helen Handy Newberry Residence (University of Michigan) records, 1915-1947

0.5 linear feet

The collection the Helen Newberry Residence contains administrative files and information relating to the history of the Helen Handy Newberry Residence at the University of Michigan.

This small 0.5 linear feet collection contains administrative records from the early years of Newberry Hall, 1915-1947. The first folder contains the minutes of the Board of Governors for the years, 1915 to 1925. The board was made up of five women. These women included the Dean of Women and at least two women who were University of Michigan graduates or who had been students. This board was appointed by the regents from those nominated by the Board of Trustees of the Students Christian Association. The second folder includes brief historical and financial records. These records give a brief financial history of the opening of the residence hall. This includes an interesting discussion of the separate roles of the university and the Student Christian Association in the upkeep of the building. There is a folder of budget summaries and a folder containing audits performed between 1927 and 1931. The Food Services records include the number of meals served and an example of the cost for guest meals. The last folder is the architectural contract from Kahn and Wilby for alterations to Newberry Hall


Lancaster Zouaves records, 1862

21 pages

The records of the Lancaster Zouaves contain the Constitution, By-Laws, Rules of Order, membership rolls, and minutes of the unit that became Company K of the 122nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment.

The records books of the Lancaster Zouaves contains the Constitution, By-Laws, Rules of Order and membership rolls of the unit that became Company K of the 122nd Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. It appears to have been kept by W.H.H. Cox (identified as secretary), though Cox's name does not appear on the muster rolls of the 122nd Pennsylvania. The book includes meeting minutes for the company's brief existence, records of the election of officers, details on the organization of the company, drills and parades, and other standard military matters. Of particular interest are the elaborate plans, expense accounts, and reports for the benefit ball held in April, 1862.


Naomi Long Madgett and the Lotus Press Papers, 1937-2004 (majority within 1970-2003)

14 boxes and one oversize box (approximately 16 linear feet) — Photographs in box 14 and scattered throughout the collection (see contents list). — Visual material in box 13. — Audio material in box 13. — Books by Naomi Long Magdett and Lotus Press, and books from Madgett's personal library, have been catalogued separately. Some chapbooks appear in the General Correspondence series, where such material were enclosed with a letter to Madgett. See the Writings and Author Files series for materials from the production of some Lotus Press books.

Naomi Long Madgett is a prominent poet, educator, and editor, recognized for her significant contribution to African-American letters. Since 1972 she has run, single-handedly, Lotus Press, which publishes poetry by African-Americans and others. The collection documents Madgett's career and the operation of Lotus Press, through correspondence, manuscripts (both by Madgett and by authors published by Lotus Press), ephemera, audiovisual material, and photographs.

The Naomi Long Madgett Papers document the prominent career of Ms. Madgett as a poet and a teacher, and her operation of Lotus Press, which Madgett has run single-handedly for more than 30 years. Thus, the collection makes a good source of insight both into Madgett's own writing and aesthetic sensibility, and into the cultures of lyric poetry and African-American letters in the latter decades of the 20th Century. The bulk of the material covers the 1980s, the 1990s, and the first few years of the 21st century, with Madgett's activities in the 1970s being fairly well represented as well. From the correspondence collected here a vivid picture emerges of Madgett's relationships with some of the authors whose work she published--such as James Emanuel and Gayl Jones--as well as with other authors, such as Gwendolyn Brooks. In addition, correspondence and ephemera evidence the growth of Madgett's own reputation, documenting her many professional activities, awards, and honors over the years. While manuscripts by Madgett herself do not comprise a large part of the collection, the fortunes of one of her most famous poems, "Midway," are documented in detail, and an unpublished autobiography ( Pilgrim Journey) provides an extensive synthesis by the author of her own influences and career (a section of which has been published by Gale's Contemporary Authors' Autobiography Series). Finally, the collection provides a close look at the daily operation, from its inception, of a small literary press.

The Naomi Long Madgett papers have been arranged into nine series: Personal, Writings, General Correspondence, Workshops and Events, Author Files, Business Records, Ephemera, Photographs, and Audiovisual. Books published by Lotus Press, as well as other books and periodicals from Madgett's library, have been catalogued individually and are shelved by call number in the Special Collections Library. Within the collection, however, much material is available from the production of certain Lotus Press books; see below Writings and Author Files.


Perdue family account book and journal, 1843-1877

1 volume

The Perdue family account book and journal contains financial accounts, employment records, and diary entries related to William Folliard Perdue of Wagontown, Pennsylvania. Much of the volume pertains to family news, local travel, and farm work.

The Perdue family account book and journal (152 pages) contains financial accounts, employment records, and diary entries related to William Folliard Perdue of Wagontown, Pennsylvania. The first (unnumbered) page contains a recipe for a rheumatism treatment and instructions for washing clothes. Pages numbered 1-4 contain financial accounts, mostly related to wheat and other crops (1843-1844).

Pages 5-151 contain employment records ("Time Accounts") and irregular diary entries covering the years 1843-1877, the bulk of which are dated from 1845-1876. William F. Perdue maintained records of the number of days or partial days that laborers worked on his farm and wrote diary entries and notes alongside and between these records. He commented on workers, farm work, livestock, and crops such as potatoes, corn, wheat, and oats. Perdue often mentioned visits to or from family members and acquaintances, and sometimes attended religious meetings, political meetings, or other social events. An entry dated January 1, 1848, reports his marriage to Emily Pyle. Page 92 contains list of fruit trees planted in the spring of 1860.

William's daughter Annie signed some entries dated 1861, and the subsequent entries, many of which concern local funerals, visits to or from family members, and other social activities, were written by an author or authors who referred to William F. Perdue as "Papa." Brief letters, a receipt, and recipes are laid into the volume, and newspaper clippings are pasted onto the endpapers.


Scots Thistle Society of Philadelphia records, 1806-1865, 1904 (majority within 1806-1865)

2 volumes

This collection consists of two volumes of organizational records from the Scots Thistle Society of Philadelphia, a fraternal mutual aid society. The volumes include the society's constitution, bylaws, and a brief history of the founding of the society, as well as minutes, financial records, and membership lists. Although these volumes were begun in 1806 following the loss of earlier records, they contain information from before that, including the constitution, bylaws, and membership lists from 1805. The bulk of the collection dates to 1806-1865, with one inserted leaflet dated 1904.

This collection consists of two volumes of organizational records from the Scots Thistle Society of Philadelphia, a fraternal mutual aid society. The volumes include the society's constitution, bylaws, a brief history of the founding of the society, minutes, financial records, and membership lists. Although these volumes begin in 1806, after the loss of earlier records, they contain information from before that, including the constitution, bylaws, and membership lists from 1805. The bulk of the collection dates to 1806-1865, with one inserted leaflet dated 1904.

Inserted into the front cover of Volume 1 is a printed reminder note for the Scots Thistle Society meeting held on March 7, 1904, with handwritten meeting notes. Another laid-in leaflet bearing handwritten notes is located in the "Laws section" of the volume. The record of minutes for the meeting held on March 4, 1826, includes a written reference to the United States Constitution.

Four loose sheets of notes are inserted into Volume 2: one sheet in the Quarterly Dues section at the page for 1847; two at the minutes of the meeting held on June 1, 1840; and one at the minutes of the meeting held on June 26, 1845.

See the Detailed Box and Folder Listing for tables of contents for the two volumes.


Sing Sing Prison Board of Inspectors and of Inspector in Charge minutes, 1865-1874

497 pages (1 volume)

This volume is made up of three sets of entries: reports of the inspector in charge of Sing Sing Prison, minutes of the Board of Inspectors of State Prisons, and a continuation of reports of the inspector in charge of Sing Sing Prison. The Board of Inspectors concentrated on inspections, facilities, maintenance, personnel, order, discipline, finances, convict labor according to the contract system, the female prison, prisoner transfers (including to Auburn Prison's asylum for mentally ill convicts), and other matters. The minutes and reports are typically brief, but taken as a whole they offer detailed insight into the workings or proposed workings of the State prison from the perspective of this administrative body.
This volume is made up of three sets of entries, divided into two sections of numbered pages. They are:
  • Reports of the Inspector in Charge of Sing Sing Prison, April 28, 1865-April 1, 1872, section 1, pages 2-187.
  • Minutes of the Board of Inspectors of State Prisons, April 12, 1865-May 12, 1873, section 2, pages 1-180.
  • Reports of the Inspector in Charge of Sing Sing Prison, May 10, 1873-December 7, 1874, section 2, 181-311.

The Board of Inspectors and the individual inspectors concentrated on prison evaluations, facilities, maintenance, personnel, order, discipline, finances, convict labor according to the contract system, the female prison, prisoner transfers (including to Auburn Prison's asylum for mentally ill convicts), and other matters. The minutes and reports are typically brief, but taken as a whole they offer detailed insight into the workings or proposed workings of the State prison from the perspective of this administrative body.

The philosophies of incarceration expressed explicitly and implicitly in the volume are retribution/deterrence, self-funding and profit making, and rehabilitation through work and discipline. See bulleted notes below for pertinent examples. See also inspector Thomas Kilpatrick's final review of successes and goals at Sing Sing Prison during his tenure (December 7, 1874, sec. 2, pp. 307-311). In it, he discussed ways to make punishments effectual, decrease solitary confinements, improve prisoner equality, reduce prisoner extravagances, and increase discipline and good management so that the coming year would see increased profits. He noted that "good government and Financial success are Identical" and that prisons should be unpleasant, as they are not state boarding houses. A complaint made in September 1873 echoed the sentiment, stating that "our Prisons are fast becoming desirable Homes for the Indolent instead of a place of punishment and terror for evil doers" (September 2, 1873, sec. 2, p. 196). Of rehabilitation, Kilpatrick remarked, "The only true practical method to reclaim and reform a Convict is to have him learn that obedience to the Laws, rules, and regulations of the Prison is essential and required, he will leave the Prison better prepared to enter upon his duties to society by respecting Law and property, than he would by permitting him to enjoy his own self-will while in prison" (December 7, 1874, sec. 2, p. 310). A series of questions to the Board from the Committee of Prison Association includes content on prison goals and a remark that no prisoner should leave the prison unable to read (January 9, 1874, sec. 2, 228-233).

Throughout these records, the inspectors documented increases and decreases in prison populations and total proposed annual expenditures, noted separately for male and female prisons. They also specified assignments of inspectors to the Clinton, Auburn, and Sing Sing prisons (section 2, passim). The inspectors compared books and vouchers with storekeepers' accounts, documented board meetings at any of the three State prisons, and dealt with scores of visitors. They fielded hundreds of tours, "to the annoyance of the officers" (August 25, 1865, sec. 1, p. 16), and attended to annual visits from the Governor and Deputy Governor.

The regular reports and entries reflect several reoccurring themes, including facilities and personnel; maintenance of order and discipline, and other prisoner matters; convict contract labor; the female prison; and mental health transfers.

Facilities and Personnel

The Inspector in Charge of Sing Sing Prison reported on visits to individual prisoners' cells, the evaluation of buildings, the state of discipline, and upkeep or repair of various locations on site. Tours of inspection typically included the hospital, storehouse, guardhouse, kitchen, office space, bathhouse, mess hall, washhouse, agent's house, blacksmith shop, labor shops, stables, yards, hog house, soap house, pasture grounds, and docks. Inspections included an assessment of the needs of these departments. In the case of the kitchen, for example, they recorded the need for more storage for vegetables, refrigeration, ration evaluations, overabundance of food, etc. They mentioned the subject of garbage disposal.

Various security and other improvements were made over the course of the volume. They implemented revisions to ventilation and lighting, constructed a new hospital spring, and built a fence around the hog house (to be less offensive to the public, April 29, 1865, sec. 1, pp. 2-5), for example. Although the prison had no wall around it until 1876, this volume documents the construction of fences--notably between the grounds and the rail line (April 17, 1866, sec. 2, p. 21; May 4, 1867, sec. 2, p. 42; November 19, 1868, sec. 2, p. 99). On October 11, 1869, the prison purchased "watchmen's detectors" (sec. 2, p. 128).

Natural and negligent accidents occurred. Flooding from the breakage of a dam in a storm required cleanup and repair from June 26 to August 26, 1867 (sec. 1, pp. 81-82, 88). On April 11, 1872, the inspector reported that "old and weak" wooden Galleries were in significant disrepair and needed to be replaced with iron to prevent fire hazards. The State Legislature refused to appropriate funds (April 12, 1872, sec. 2, p. 154). The following year, the Galleries collapsed and killed one convict, injured several more, and injured one keeper (May 22, 1873, sec. 2, pp. 182-183). They rebuilt the structure, as reported on February 10, 1874 (sec. 2, p. 239).

The inspectors' reports reflect individual personnel changes, suspensions, dismissals, reinstatements, retirements, and new hires. The positions included guards, keepers, principal keepers, agents/wardens, assistant matrons, matrons, teachers, clergymen, and others. No lists of the complete staff exist in the volume. In three cases, the records indicate the hire of Civil War veterans (April 17, 1866, sec. 1, p. 39; May 22, 1866, sec. 1, p. 44; and August 13, 1866, sec. 1, p. 50).

Officers and keepers might be suspended or dismissed for various prison rule violations. These included reading while on duty, sleeping while on duty, dereliction of duty, language unbecoming of a guard, speaking poorly of other officers rather than working together, intemperance, trading with prisoners, receiving money from convicts, assisting in prison escapes, theft, not having sufficient knowledge to conduct their jobs, and other issues. In one case a prison keeper was suspended for stealing a "fancy box" made by convicts (May 30, 1865, sec. 1, p. 6). In another case, the shoe shop supervisor was suspended for stashing whiskey, Port, Champagne, eggs, tea, coffee, butter, pipes, and sugar (December 30, 1867, sec. 1, p. 114).

Other miscellaneous personnel issues arose. The Board deliberated on whether or not minor officers or guards should be required to wear uniforms; dissent argued that much of the staff could not afford the expense (July 21, 1873, sec. 2, p. 187).

Maintenance of Order and Discipline, and Other Prisoner Matters

Prisoners needed special privileges to engage in activities like writing letters, drawing money on deposit, receiving visits by relatives, etc. The minutes include entries specifying the nature of a privilege and the name of the convict receiving the permission. Male convicts repeatedly drew on their money deposited at the prison to send to mothers, wives and sisters, brothers (e.g. June 15, 1865, sec. 1, p. 8; June 17, 1865, sec. 1, p. 9), purchase books (such as a German dictionary, April 17, 1866, sec. 1, p. 39), and acquire additional food for health reasons (August 4, 1865, sec. 1, p. 13). One prisoner required special permission to use his money to pay for wooden leg repairs (June 16, 1865, sec. 1, pp. 9; November 7, 1867, sec. 1, p. 99), and another, George Smith, received permission to grow his whiskers after the first of June (April 29, 1865, sec. 1, p. 4).

The inspectors assessed and acted on various health and medical issues in the prison, particularly when outbreaks of illness occurred, such as an August 11, 1866, spreading of a bowel sickness (sec. 1, p. 48). In two cases, disinfection of the prison was performed (June 24, 1868, sec. 2, p. 71; April 5, 1869, sec. 2, pp. 123-124). Prisoners were required to be vaccinated, costing the State $200 (April 11, 1872, sec. 2, p. 155).

Inspectors occasionally made notes on prison clergy (Catholic and Congregational) and educators, and they attended chapel services at times. One inspector remarked that the convicts' singing could stand for improvement (January 26, 1866, sec. 1, p. 29). The teachers and clergy requested supplies for their work. On April 10, 1867 (sec. 1, p. 75), the chaplain ordered six dozen each of slates and spelling books. They purchased an organ for the chapel on January 1, 1868 (sec. 2, p. 57). In a show of public support for improving the character of officers and government of the prison (and, as they remarked, increasing intelligent, thinking visitors), the prison received an appropriation for the prison library (August 4, 1873, sec. 2, p. 189). Convicts' own books required approval from the chaplain (July 10, 1869, sec. 2, p. 127). Evidence of disorder in the chapel was also noted, as when the inspectors noticed convicts chewing tobacco during services (December 13, 1873, sec. 2, p. 225).

Order and discipline were chief concerns for the prison administration. Groups of male convicts were forbidden from congregating without the presence of a guard, pausing their work to gaze at visitors, possessing contraband, among many restrictions. Examples of the establishment of disciplinary rules, re-emphasis on existing rules, and punishment issues include:

  • No female prisoners are permitted to be walked through any workshop (April 16, 1869, sec. 2, p. 126).
  • Order to investigate punishments of a female and male prisoner (January 20, 1872, sec. 1, p. 184).
  • Discipline respecting the allowance of women to visit the male prison (February 6, 1872, sec. 1, p. 185).
  • No officer, keeper, or guard at the prisons will be permitted to keep horses, cattle, or other animals in the yards or grounds, or to feed them from food belonging to the State (January 2, 1873, sec. 2, p. 170).
  • No punishments are to be administered by a guard for any offenses unless the warden is consulted and the punishment approved. Twelve hours must pass between approval and the application of the punishment, giving the convict time to take in the gravity of the offense (January 3, 1873, sec. 2, p. 171).
  • On the Fourth of July/Independence Day 1873, convicts put on a vocal and instrumental performance, had an "excellent" dinner, had no restrictions until 6:00pm, and engaged in talking, laughing, singing, and speaking. The inspector remarked that the prisoners "were not unmindful of our National Birth day" (July 4, 1873, sec. 2, p. 185). However, by the end of the year, convicts were discovered practicing their art for a New Year's entertainment, which took them away from work. The inspector noted that such activities were detrimental to order and discipline, and had "no moral benefit" to the prisoners. He remarked that previous entertainments led to drunkenness, dissipation, and violation of rules (December 11, 1873, sec. 2, p. 224).
  • Loose discipline is destructive with respect to society's expectations of the prison, and it "also leads to greater necessity for punishment than a firm but humane policy" (August 12, 1873, sec. 2, p. 191).
  • No one is allowed to bring anything into the prison to sell or give to convicts, except tobacco in limited quantities (September 1873, sec. 2, p. 195).
  • Prisoners are not allowed to have civilian clothing as it increases the likelihood of escape; guards must monitor the movements of all prisoners. No prisoner may be given any keys (September 1873, sec. 2, p. 196).
  • No fishing is permitted on the prison docks during working hours (September 5, 1873, sec. 2, p. 198).
  • No cooking is permitted by inmates in any out house, shanty, or yard anywhere on the prison grounds, except in the prison kitchen, because it causes inequality among the prisoners (September 5, 1873, sec. 2, p. 199).
  • No convicts are allowed to roam around the grounds after prison hours, because "Great evil has heretofore prevailed and will again" if the actions continue (September 8, 1873, sec. 2, p. 201).
  • All huts and shanties that have arisen around the yards and quarries will be taken down because inmates meet in them and plot mischief (September 8, 1873, sec. 2, p. 201).
  • Visitors are not permitted in the prison without a ticket. A blue ticket indicates those entitled to visit for free, while a red ticket indicates a paid visitor. No officer may accept compensation from visitors for any favors (October 10, 1873, sec. 2, p. 207).
  • Only one convict is allowed in the water closet at a time (October 11, 1873, sec. 2, p. 208).
  • Wagons or sleighs must be observed by guards when loading and must be under watch when moving to or from prison grounds (November 11, 1873, sec. 2, p. 213.
  • Discussions of commutation are rare. On one occasion, the inspectors considered commutation because "it is self evident that crime is increasing at a fearful rate and the Capacity of our Prisons entirely inadequate to accommodate that increase" (December 10, 1873, sec. 2, p. 223; see also January 9, 1874, sec. 2, p. 229).
  • "The important trust of taking care of and provided for the moral & physical wants of unfortunate depraved and suffering humanity is too sacred to be confided to any who do not sympathize with their success and reform." All punishments are to be delivered "in kindness yet with firmness" (January 12, 1874, sec. 2, p. 235).
  • In one of the only instances of positive reinforcement stated in the records, the administration discussed implementing a coat sleeve mark to distinguish meritorious conduct (August 14, 1874, sec. 2, p. 274).
  • The keepers and guards on night duty will enforce quiet with punishment and the removal of the light in the offender's cell (September 2, 1874, sec. 2, p. 287).

Mount Pleasant Female Prison

The Board of Inspectors evaluated the Mount Pleasant Female Prison in much the same way as they assessed the male prison. Notes and reports on aspects of the female prison cover facilities upkeep and improvement, personnel issues, order and discipline, contract work, health, and other subjects. The inspectors reviewed processes related to children, female-specific rules (such as disallowing women from using tobacco), visitor arrangements, and lack of infrastructure to tend to mentally ill women (August 25, 1865, sec. 1, p. 16). One entry documents the punishment of female inmates for reporting unspecified misconduct by an officer (September 22, 1868, sec. 1, pp. 128-129).

Entries respecting children:
  • Problem with children of female convicts being brought to the prison; arrangements with Superintendents of the Poor; and movement of children to the almshouse (April 12, 1865, sec. 2, p. 4).
  • The only woman identified in the volume who received special permission to have her child with her in prison (June 26, 1867, sec. 1, p. 82).
  • All children brought to or born in the female prison are to be taken to the almshouse at the age of one year, as arranged by the warden and the Superintendent of the Poor, Westchester County. An alternative is to have a relative take the child (October 9, 1873, sec. 2, p. 206).
Various female prison entries:
  • Issues associated with the night matron of the female prison sleeping and leaving no one at attention (April 13, 1865, sec. 2, p. 3).
  • Women's wardrobe is to be directed by the principal matron (July 9 and 10, 1865, sec. 2, p. 8).
  • At Auburn Prison, allowance for unemployed female convicts is to be utilized by assistant matrons for their own benefit (July 12, 1865, sec. 2, p. 9).
  • Improvements to the key room in the Female Prison, (August 4, 1865, sec. 1, p. 13).
  • Mary Watterson, assistant matron of the female prison, is severely injured by inmates, "who as I understand, manifested more the disposition of fiends than human beings" (September 4, 1865, sec. 1, pp. 17-18).
  • Mr. Woodruff's contract with female prisoners expired and now many of them are unemployed; hope for another contract soon (November 22, 1865, sec. 1, p. 23; continued concerns, plus overcrowding, December 14, 1865, sec. 1, p. 25).
  • The female prison is not to be closed on foggy days (as the male prison is) and women will be required to work full days (January 30, 1866, sec. 1, p. 30).
  • Purchase of Mrs. Hubbard's cow for the female prison (December 7, 1866, sec. 1, p. 61).
  • Order to fill a well in the female prison yard, as the water is filthy because of its proximity to the sewer (March 4, 1867, sec. 1, p. 73).
  • Relocation of a bridge near the female prison because it was not easily viewed by guards (July 8, 1867, sec. 2, p. 47).
  • Purchase of new stair carpets for the female prison matron (March 1, 1868, sec. 2, p. 62).
  • Two women convicts punished for "reporting an Officer"; reaffirmation that no official notice will be taken of the testimony of a convict and that the principal matron may administer whatever punishment she sees suitable for "reporting any action or language of any officer" (September 22, 1868, sec. 1, pp. 128-129).
  • The matron of the female prison determines how much washing is requisite for the department. (January 6, 1869, sec. 2, p. 114).
  • Hire of Mary Wright as assistant matron (Feb. 10, 1870, sec. 1, p. 150; May 8, 1870, sec. 1, p. 156).
  • Suspension of Mrs. Smith by the principal matron, attributable to a misunderstanding and malicious stories; reinstated as assistant matron (May 7, 1870, sec. 1, p. 155).
  • One female convict has permission to see her imprisoned husband every three weeks; also, female prison rations and pay (July 7, 1870, sec. 2, p. 138).
  • Discussion of the need for a kitchen in the female hospital; suggests moving the nursery up a floor and using the space it formerly occupied (July 22, 1873, sec. 2, p. 188).
  • In the Clinton Prison, contractors may supply tobacco to male but not female convicts, "there being no necessity for its use by them it is forbidden." They may, however, be allowed snuff in reasonable quantities (October 16, 1873, sec. 2, p. 209).
  • Mrs. Hubbell and her daughter may deliver luxuries to the female prisoners in the prison hospital, "as they think will add to their comfort" (November 7, 1873, sec. 2, p. 211).
  • Warden to furnish knitting needles to female prisoners to knit stockings (January 9, 1874, sec. 2, p. 229).
  • Female prisoners dying in the hospital should receive a room free from noise and human traffic (May 6, 1874, sec. 2, p. 258).
  • Assistant matron Mrs. Chase fell down the stairs, has brain damage, and is likely to die; grief experienced by prisoners (October 4, 1874, sec. 2, p. 292).

Mental Illness

The content in these records pertinent to mental health takes the form of assessment of prisoners and transfer of convicts to the asylum at Auburn Prison. See, for example:

  • John Donnelly of the buckle shop was laboring under delusions, treated at the hospital, and is now apparently better (August 25, 1865, sec. 1, p. 16).
  • The State Lunatic Asylum will not accept mentally ill female convicts and they have no proper accommodations at Sing Sing: "there seems at present no satisfactory answer to the question 'What shall be done with the insane female convicts'" (August 25, 1865, sec. 1, p. 16).
  • One of the prisoners in "the Dark Cells" is "a fit subject for the Asylum" (March 7, 1866, sec. 1, p. 37).
  • • Transfers to Auburn Prison asylum; most entries provide names of the transfers (the following list is not proofed, but is believed to document all such entries in this volume):
    • Physician informs the inspector that a particular convict is unfit for prison discipline on account of being "insane" (November 12, 1866, sec. 1, p. 58).
    • Two patients (February 4, 1867, sec. 1, p. 70).
    • Two patients (May 20, 1867, sec. 1, p. 80).
    • Four patients (December 11, 1867, sec. 1, p. 108).
    • Four patients (June 24, 1868, sec. 2, p. 72).
    • One patient from the Clinton Prison to Auburn (June 24, 1868, sec. 2, p. 72).
    • Four patients (February 4, 1869, sec. 1, p. 134).
    • Two patients (March 6, 1869, sec. 1, pp. 136-137.
    • Five patients, including one Black man (May 27, 1869, sec. 1, p. 144).
    • One patient (December 13, 1869, sec. 2, p. 133).
    • One patient (August 3, 1870, sec. 1, pp. 158-159).
    • One patient (May 4, 1871, sec. 1, p. 170).
    • One patient (May 25, 1871, sec. 1, p. 172).
    • Two patients (July 12, 1871, sec. 1, p. 174).
    • Four patients, including one woman (January 4, 1872, sec. 1, p. 183-184).
    • Two men and two women; assessment of prisoners for mental health issues in male and female prisons (August 25-26, 1873, sec. 2, pp. 192-193).

Finances, the Contract System, and Profit

The managerial responsibilities of the Board of Inspectors included paying close attention to the financial aspects of the State Prisons. These Sing Sing records include documentation of expenditures, anticipated annual financial need, money received from the State, the value of stock held by the prison or from the State, requisitions, and management of prisoner contract labor. The minutes of the Board of Inspectors are at times dominated by advertising contract leases, considering proposals and applications by contractors, negotiating wages, maximizing the numbers of laboring inmates, handling contractors in arrears, balancing labor for the State versus labor for contractors, maintaining profitability, and discussing the value of keeping prisoners from being idle.

The State prison contract system included a wide variety of natural resource gathering, processing, and manufacturing operations. Among them were limestone, coal, and marble quarrying; limekiln operations; stonecutting, woodcutting, and printing; manufacturing of linen, clothing (and "convict cloth"), hats, tapestries, cabinets, saddles, harnesses, whips, shoes, boots, tools, skates, malleable iron, nails, cutlery, furniture, chain, cigars, brushes, marble dust, augurs, and brassware. On May 12, 1873, the inspectors made arrangements for the construction of buildings at the extreme south end of the grounds for the manufacture of sulfuric acid and terre alba (sec. 2, p. 180). Entries also pertain to the infrastructure needed for these contacts, such as acquiring machinery, kilns, forges, and workspaces.

During the financial panic of 1873 and the accompanying decrease in the prices of goods, the Board of Inspectors minutes show a flurry of efforts by the State and the contractors to decrease costs, increase inmate employment, and reduce the number of prison guards and keepers.

Some examples of entries that relate to efforts to minimize expenditures or illuminate contract labor activities, discussions, profitability, and economic considerations include:
  • Women laborers tended to make around 20-24c per day, while men largely made around 40-60c per day (see section 2 passim).
  • The State advertised contracts based on the number of able-bodied inmates (October 4, 1865, sec. 2, p. 11). An example advertisement is located on October 17, 1866 (sec. 2, p. 32).
  • While prisoner transfers occurred for mental health and overcrowding reasons, a good number of prisoners were moved between State prisons to manage the workforce needed for contract labor (for example, March 14, 1866, sec. 2, p. 19). In one case, Sing Sing had "more convicts than can profitably be employed," necessitating transfers (July 22, 1873, sec. 2, p. 188). The Board also discussed the transfer of prisoners based on types of work skills needed at different State prisons, except when a convict had family members who could not visit the other prisons (June 12, 1874, sec. 2, p. 263).
  • "The contractors all seem doing a prosperous business and it really seems to me that with the high price of labor out of the prison, they can well afford to pay more for the service of convicts" (November 12, 1866, sec. 1, p. 58).
  • Implementation of orders against the overwork of prisoners on contracts, and against promises of additional pay to convicts for extra work (March 4, 1867, sec. 1, p. 74).
  • The inspectors sought support from the State to improve iron-working facilities and be more productive for the State (by rolling scrap iron, processing coke, etc.). By November 1867, they had set up twelve forges with the anticipation of more (November 22, 1867, sec. 1, pp. 101-102).
  • In 1868, the Prison Committee of the House of Assembly discussed the State taking over the profitable quarrying operations and cutting out the intermediary contractor. They also discussed the abolition of the contract system in order to have the convicts work solely on behalf of the State (February 29, 1868, sec. 2, p. 60). Legislators passed a State law the same year, terminating the quarry contract. These records contain copied correspondence on the State purchase of machinery and tools, and the compensation of contractor Westchester Marble & Lime Company for $125,000 (June 24, 1868, sec. 2, pp. 73-87). The contract itself is copied in sec. 2, pp. 91-93. An example listing of State profits from quarry operations is found on September 22, 1868 (sec. 1, p. 128). However, in 1871, the legislature failed to appropriate funds for the operation of the lime and marble works, prompting a discussion about whether to close the works or again lease to a contractor (May 2, 1871, sec. 2, pp. 145-146). Ultimately, the State authorized the continuation of the work so long as it received 25c net for each barrel of lime and half the proceeds from the sale of marble dust, cut stone, and fluxation (May 30, 1871, sec. 2, pp. 146-147).
  • One short-lived contract was a printing operation by James B. Swain and Francis B. Fisher, employing 75 men. By the summer of 1868, the legislature forbade any future printing contracts (February 29, 1868-July 20, 1868, sec. 2, pp. 61, 68-69, 89-90).
  • The augur manufacturing contract lost money and changed hands from James Horner to Montauk Auger Co. (July 18, 1868, sec. 2, pp. 88-89). They closed up shop on November 19, 1868, while owing $14,528.43 to the State for convict labor, water, merchandise, and interest; the State negotiated to purchase all the equipment for the work (sec. 2, pp. 100-101).
  • Fire destroyed the buildings used by contractor C. H. Woodruff, but his contract expired, so they were uncertain as to whether or not to repair them (July 21, 1868, sec. 1, p. 123).
  • Contract of I. G. Johnson & Co. of the Malleable Iron Contract and W. H. Skidmore of the "Female Contract" (100 female convicts employed on linen clothing manufacturing) to obtain their own heating for winter work (November 18, 1868, sec. 2, pp. 96-97; see also the contract of W. H. Skidmore, November 19, sec. 2, pp. 97-98).
  • Punishment cells need to be constructed that have room for the convict to work, on the belief that this will answer discipline issues (July 9, 1869, sec. 1, p. 149).
  • Contract for female labor transferred to Townsend Young in making linen coats and items like it for summer wear, but not heavy woolen goods (April 8, 1871, sec. 2, p. 143).
  • Requirement to collect sums due from contractors for overwork. Discussion of prisoner work hours and idle time, concerned that convicts hurry and complete their work by noon; requirement established that prisoners work from bell to bell (October 11, 1871, sec. 2, pp. 148-149).
  • Addition of a shop room for boot and shoe contractor George L. Trask (December 10, 1872, sec. 2, pp. 166-167).
  • Auburn Prison's receipt of proposals for the laundry business and manufacture of summer clothing by female convicts (February 5, 1873, sec. 2, p. 175; February 15, 1873, sec. 2, p. 177).
  • Review of convict clothing to be conducted so that the State can save funds manufacturing as little clothing as possible (August 11, 1873, sec. 2, p. 190).
  • "Wholesome discipline should be maintained by moral suasion if possible, by such force when necessity requires it as may bring the delinquent to obedience, as speedily as possible, and according to their best judgement and time, provided such mode of punishment is not forbidden by law. An opinion prevails that all punishment under any circumstances is prohibited and consequently that want of discipline and insubordination prevails in the prisons, which opinions thus entertained are seriously affecting the letting of Contracts and consequently a great pecuniary loss to the State." All punishment must therefore be delivered only by the principal keeper, with the assent of the warden, and upon inquiry into the case (August 12, 1873, sec. 2, pp. 191-192).
  • "The Contractors being in want to men it becomes a necessity that all convicts able to work (and not currently on contracts) should be placed where they could earn something. All available men not thus employed in Kitchen Halls, Mess Room or Yards, or elsewhere should be set at work and their places filled as far as possible by Invalids or those who are too infirm to be placed upon or continued on Contracts. A very large number could be thus changed largely increasing the Income of the Prison, there are far too many unemployed" (September 4, 1873, sec. 2, p. 197).
  • Too much milk is being consumed by female prisoners, costing the State money. Reduce rations to former quantities. Reduce expenses in every department: "our Prisons are fast becoming desirable Homes for the Indolent instead of a place of punishment and terror for evil doers" (September 1873, sec. 2, p. 196).
  • "The men should work more hours than they are now doing, that the Hours of work should be lengthened not made shorter, it would be better for the Convicts..." (September 5, 1873, sec. 2, p. 197).
  • "A determined effort should be made to reduce the expenses of this Prison by increasing the number of convicts upon Contract work and by a reduction of expenses in the number of Keepers and Guards and otherwise" (September 5, 1873, sec. 2, p. 198).
  • A decrease in convict labor hours has caused "in some cases dissatisfaction to contractors" and is "injurious to the State." Lost work hours are also injurious to the convicts because they are locked up earlier than they would be otherwise and are unlocked later in the morning. More on reduction of expenses, with a mention of supplying wholesome food and comfortable clothing for the prisoners. Contractors should receive a fair day's labor (October 7, 1873, sec. 2, pp. 203-204).
  • The cost of gas from the Sing Sing Gas Company has increased; consideration whether the gas can be manufactured at the Prison (October 9, 1873, sec. 2, pp. 205-206).
  • Townsend Young, contractor for women's prison; "Task List" for the contract (November 11, 1873, sec. 2, p. 212).
  • A decline in prices renders the plane-making business unprofitable. A reduction in pay and number of prison laborers is necessary to prevent indebtedness (November 12, 1873, sec. 2, p. 216).
  • Correspondence and notes regarding the slump in prices and contractors' attempts to hire prisoners at half time for 10c to 20c per day (November 1873, sec. 2, pp. 216-222).
  • All legal costs desired or needed by laboring convicts are required to be paid by the prisoner (January 7, 1874, sec. 2, p. 227).
  • Decrease in bids for contracts, resulting from lack of discipline in workers and the "high price" of prison labor compared to other States (July 14, 1874, sec. 2, p. 269).
  • Complaints about number of able-bodied men in the hospital and unable to work (December 1874, sec. 2, p. 304).

Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (University of Michigan) records., 1993-1996

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University of Michigan student chapter of the Society of American Archivists. Records contain founding documents, including a copy of the constitution, e-mail correspondence, minutes and meeting notes as well as membership lists.

The Society of American Archivists Student Chapter (University of Michigan) records date from 1993-1996. The records document the founding of this student chapter at the University of Michigan.