Inmate Case Files, 7/3/1895 - 11/5/1957; NAID: 571125; Record Group 129: Records of the Bureau of Prisons, 1870–2009; National Archives at Kansas City, Kansas City, MO.
This series consists of an index of 49,000 records from the Leavenworth, Kansas U.S. Penitentiary of individual inmate case files. While the contents of the files vary from inmate to inmate, nearly all include a Record Sheet that gives several details about the inmate's crime, court fines, sentence, etc. Most files also include a mug shot photograph of the inmate with front and profile views and could also include a rap sheet of prior and subsequent arrests, convictions, and incarcerations. Additionally, account books, ledgers, annual reports, and journals are in the database. There are some discrepancies in inmate prison numbers and it is unclear why one is occasionally skipped.
The Leavenworth, Kansas prison was built in 1896 in the place of a former military prison. The Three Prisons Act passed by the Department of Justice, who became responsible for Federal prisoners in the 1870s, made possible the purchase of three sites for prison locations which included what became the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Supervision of Federal prisoners passed to the Bureau of Prisons in 1930, at the end period of these records, when the Department of Justice created it.
Prisoner stories vary immensely. Inmate #6594, a boy named Dan Tso-Se, was incarcerated for murder when he was twelve years old. Nicknamed "Nature Boy," his file records that he knew no language having grown up "in the wild." Prisoners Charles Wille, Joseph Wirth, and John McMonigle were imprisoned for violating the Oleomargarine Act (an act passed in 1886 to regulate the manufacture and sale of margarine, a product that was becoming an increasing threat to the dairy industry) with prison sentences ranging from 1 to 3 years.
Information in this database:
- Name of inmate li>
- Inmate number li>
- Date incarcerated li>
Additional information that may be included:
- Alias li>
- Crime li>
- Sentence li>
- Court fines and costs li>
- Dates of sentence, arrival at penitentiary, and ending of maximum term li>
- Good time allowed li>
- Occupation li>
- Age li>
- Date eligible to parole li>
In the early 1930s, prison officials began studying the personal history of inmates to determine placement in treatment programs. The "Special Admissions Summary" resulting from this inquiry gives intimate details of an inmate's life which is incredibly all-inclusive. Starting with a review of the inmate's criminal past the records could contain a social service interview examining the subject's childhood, family life, living conditions, economic status, and attitude toward rehabilitation; a medical history, including neuropsychiatric report with mental age and I.Q. test scores; educational attainments; employment history; religious background and preference; recreational interests; and the reviewing committee's recommendations for custody and discipline, transfer, social services, treatment (medical and psychiatric), and training (educational, vocational, religious, and recreational).
How to Obtain Copies of Original Files:
The original case files are located at the National Archive at Kansas City, arranged numerically by inmate number. Please make sure to include this number when requesting a copy of a file from the archive.
The National Archives Central Plains Region (Kansas City)
400 West Pershing Road
Kansas City, MO 64108
Email: [email protected]