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Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Bureau of Archives and History
Pennsylvania State Archives


RG-15

Records of the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

Series Descriptions


Attorney General


The Attorney General is the chief legal and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth and today heads the Office of the Attorney General (RG-70).  The position of Attorney General is first mentioned in the Constitution of 1776, though it was not specified in the Constitutions of 1790 and 1838. An act passed in 1792, however, required the Attorney General to submit annual reports showing the fees he collected for writs and various documents pertaining to his activities. The Attorney General was originally appointed by the Governor for an unspecified term and was not subjected to legislative approval until the passage of the Constitution of 1874. Prior to the creation of the Department of Justice in 1923, the department over which he presided was known as the Attorney General’s Department.

The Board of Pardons was first established in the Attorney General’s Department in 1874.  The Board of Correction was created in the Department of Justice in 1953 to administer the state correctional institutions formerly maintained by the Department of Welfare.  Prior to 1981, the Attorney General was appointed by the Governor and from 1923 headed the Department of Justice. He is also a member of the Board of Pardons, the Board of Finance and Revenue, the Board of Property, and the Board of Commissioners of Uniform Laws in the United States.  In 1978, voters approved a constitutional amendment for electing the Attorney General. With this change, the duties of the Office of the Attorney General were defined under the Commonwealth Attorneys Act of 1980, and since January 20, 1981, the Office of the Attorney General has operated as an independent department. 

The Attorney General provides legal advice to the Governor, represents the Commonwealth and Commonwealth agencies in actions brought by or against the Commonwealth or its agencies, represents the Commonwealth in actions brought by any of its citizens for violation of antitrust laws of the United States and the Commonwealth, administers the provisions of consumer protection laws, reviews the form and legality of proposed rules and regulations for Commonwealth agencies, reviews the form and legality of deeds, leases and contracts to be executed by Commonwealth agencies, and is the chief law enforcement officer charged with prosecuting organized crime and public corruption. Elected Attorney Generals now also serve on the Joint Committee on Documents, the Hazardous Substances Transportation Board, the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the Civil Disorder Commission, the Municipal Police Officers' Education and Training Commission, and the Deputy Sheriffs’ Education and Training Board.  For records dating after 1981, please see the Records of the Office of the Attorney General (RG-70).


Ephrata Cloister File, Including Minutes of the Cloister Board of Trustees,
1814-1956.

(3 boxes)
Microfilm Roll #390-392

{series #15.1}[Holdings]

Grouped by type of material and arranged variously.

Court briefs (1929-1934, 1944-1946), court dockets (1931-1938), deeds (1895-1922), photographs, newspaper clippings, and general correspondence (1929-1956) relating to the acquisition of the Ephrata Cloister by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Included are minutes of the Ephrata Cloister Board of Trustees (1814-1932).  Organized along the banks of the Cocalico Creek in Lancaster County in 1732 by Georg Conrad Beissel (1690-1768), the Ephrata Cloister was a German Pietist community of religious celibates who practiced vegetarianism, adult baptism by total immersion, and held their worship services on Saturdays.  At its peak, the community consisted of approximately 85 celibate men and women and was supported by an associated community of more than three hundred married householders who lived on surrounding farms.  The community became noted for its extensive printing operation and manufactured its own ink and paper.  Members of the community composed hundreds of hymns and created fine examples of the Germanic calligraphic writing form known as Frakturschriften.   The Cloister earned a place in the history of the American Revolution by serving as a military hospital for sick and wounded soldiers from the battle at Brandywine Creek in 1777.  The Ephrata Cloister community influenced the creation of the Snow Hill Nunnery in Franklin County and a small German Seventh Day German Baptist community in Bedford County.

After the last celibate Ephrata member died in 1813, the householders incorporated as the German Seventh Day Baptist Church of Ephrata in 1814 and continued to occupy the grounds until 1941.  The site today contains the largest concentration of medieval Germanic-style log and half-timber buildings to be found anywhere on the continent of North America.  The acquisition of the property by the Commonwealth resulted in protracted litigation involving rival factions within the religious society and the final agreement specified that surviving members could continue to hold worship services in the Cloister meeting house until the last living member of the religious society died. 

The minute books commence with the text of the act of the legislature that incorporated the German Religious Society of Seventh Day Baptists of Ephrata under the trusteeship of Christian Bowman, Jacob Gorgas, Able Witmer, Samuel Fahnestack, Jacob Kimmel, Obed Fahnestock, and Jacob Konigmacher on February 24, 1814.  The legal briefs are for the case of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania versus Seventh Day Baptists of Ephrata, a corporation, and Reuben S. Kachel, William Y. Zerfass, Theodore S. Zerfass , William K. Bechtel, M. Kathryn Kachel, and Milton D. Enck, Trustees, and proclaiming to be Trustees, of Seventh Day Baptists of Ephrata, Pennsylvania (Case No. 136 in Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, 1931).  There are extensive transcripts of testimony taken at the hearings in the quo warranto proceedings against the Seventh Day Baptists of Ephrata on October 23, 1930 and in February 1933.  Correspondence relates to the long-standing legal disputes between factions within the religious community that resulted in the posting of state police at the Ephrata Cloister to protect property rights during the condemnation proceedings.  The deeds are modern typescripts of early deeds for the transfer of tracts making up the present 25-acre Ephrata Cloister property.  These include the transcript of the original deed for the 89-acre tract transferred by John Mayle to Father Friedsam (Conrad Beissel), et. al. as joint tenants on September 22, 1762, and all subsequent deeds affecting or reducing the size of the property.  These are accompanied by a plan for the plot of land acquired by the Commonwealth and the surrounding land titles in Ephrata Township prepared in October 1938 and three copies of a blueprint survey of the land at Ephrata Cloister prepared in 1935 and revised in 1937 that depicts the footprints of both the then extant and several demolished buildings. Newspaper articles relating to the takeover of the Cloister by the Commonwealth are from the Ephrata Review of July 8, 1932 and January 14, 1937. Photographs depict two views of the Brothers’ House called Bethania, now demolished, and the surviving Saron (Sisters’ House) and Saal (Meeting house). Also included are two copies of Historical Account of the Ephrata Cloister and the Seventh Day Baptist Society by A. Monroe Aurand, Jr. (Harrisburg, 1940) and a copy of Historical Sketch of Snow Hill (Nunnery), 1829-1929 by Emma C. Monn (reprinted 1935). A folder marked “General Correspondence, 1940-1956” contains a variety of materials that trace the final transfer of ownership of the property to the Commonwealth including a history of the proceedings and provisions for maintenance of the cemeteries.

For related materials on the Ephrata Cloister see also Ephrata Cloister Collection (Manuscript Group 46) and Julius F. Sachse Deposit of Ephrata Cloister Materials (Manuscript Group 351). For historical background on the Ephrata Cloister see Chronicon Ephratense by Lamech and Agrippa (Ephrata: 1784, translation by J. Max Harke, New York: 1889), Leben und Wandel by Ezechial Sangmeister (Ephrata: 1825, translation by Barbara M. Schindler in vol. 4-10 of the Journal of the Cocalico Valley Historical Society: 1979-1985), German Sectarians of Pennsylvania: A Critical and Legendary History of the Ephrata Cloister and the Dunkers by Julius Friedrich Sachse (Philadelphia: 1899), The Ephrata Commune, An Early American Counterculture by E. G. Alderfer (Pittsburgh: 1989), and Ephrata Cloister by John Bradley (Mechanicsburg: 2000).

General Correspondence,
1958, 1963, 1965, 1967-1981.

(166 cartons, 1 box)

{series #15.2} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by subject and arranged thereunder chronologically by date of correspondence. 

Indexed externally, alphabetically by subject in search room finding aid for the period 1971-1974.

Correspondence of the Attorney General, including Israel Packel, Gerald Gornish, Edward G. Biester, and Harvey Bartle III, relating to such diverse subjects as abortion, the Affirmative Action Program, American Civil Liberties Union, legislative memoranda, American Judicature Society, Auditor General, banking, budget, civil defense, consumer protection, Crime Commission, Fish Commission, government reorganization, group insurance, county judges, judicial procedures, Labor and Industry, Liquor Control Board, medical experimentation on inmates in county prisons, Medicaid fraud control, migrant workers, Military Affairs, National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG), Pardons Board, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Probation and Parole Board, Public Utility Commission, regional jails, Revenue, Salary Task Force, Television Network Commission, Transportation Committee, Treasury Department, Urban Affairs, Weights and Measures, and Youth Conservation Service.

General Litigation Case Files,
1966-1972.

(38 cartons, 1 box)

{series #15.148} [Holdings] [RESTRICTED]

Grouped chronologically by year and thereunder loosely arranged chronologically by case number. Public inquiries are grouped first by year and thereunder arranged alphabetically by surname of correspondent.

Litigation case files and public inquiries of the Office of Attorney General. Litigation files include legal documents and forms, correspondence, and supporting case statutes and laws. Public inquiry files consist of letters sent from Pennsylvania residents, other state agencies or officials, and various organizations to the Office of Attorney General, along with the responses sent. Topics covered in the litigation cases include: public utilities; Department of State; tax-free industrial-revenue bonds; employment, retirement, and pension issues; de facto segregation in public schools based on residential districting lines; and other constitutional issues. Public inquiry files cover various topics of concern (bankruptcy, Common Law marriage, real estate, voting, election, residency requirements, etc.), and include requests for information and verification of state laws and statutes.

Because some records in this series contain sensitive information, the Archives staff will determine the researcher's level of accessibility.

Legal Case File Relating to Bible Reading in Public Schools,
1959-1965.
(1 carton)

{series #15.3} [Holdings]

Grouped by type of material and arranged thereunder chronologically by date of document.

Court papers, legal opinions and correspondence relating to Civil Action No. 24119 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District entitled Edward Lewis Schemp, Sidney Gerber Schemp, individually and as parents and natural guardians of Ellory Frank Schemp, Roger Wade Schemp and Donna Kay Schemp vs. School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania, James F. Koehler, O. H. English, Eugene Stull, M. Edward Northam, and Charles H. Boehm (December 17, 1959) and related cases concerning the practice of Bible-reading in public schools. Included is a copy of Official Opinion No. 260 of the Pennsylvania Department of Justice issued on the June 17, 1963 in response to the United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Abington School District vs. Schemp, 374 U. S. 10 L. Ed. 2d 844, 83 S. Ct. 1560 (1963) in which the Pennsylvania statute requiring that each school day commence with a Bible reading was found to be in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. (The statute ruled to be unconstitutional was Section 1516 of the Public School Code of 1949, the Act of March 18, 1949, P. L. 30, as amended December 17, 1959, P. L. 1928, 24 P. S. 15-1516.)  In their written opinion, the justices of the United States Supreme Court also invalidated a rule of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners requiring recitation of the Lord’s Prayer by students in unison and the daily reading of Bible verses as a part of the opening exercises (Murray vs. Curlett, No. 119).  Though, in its decision, the Court banned both the practice of either “requiring” or “permitting” organized Bible reading in public schools, the decision also specifically encouraged teaching about comparative religion and the history of religion, encouraged the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and a period of silent meditation, and the use of readings from great literature, speeches of great Americans, and inspirational music, poetry and art so long as the precepts of no one religion were preferred over another.  It also specifically allowed the practice of spontaneous individual prayer by any student during the course of the school day.

            Correspondence exchanged between the Department of Public Instruction, the Cornwall-Lebanon Joint School Board and the Committee on Permissive Bible Reading is present together with correspondence of Attorney General Walter E. Alessandroni with Pennsylvania Governor William W. Scranton and with the pastor of the Paxton Presbyterian Church.  A transcript of a report of the Superintendent of Common Schools issued June 4, 1866 addressing the issue of religion in public schools and related historical articles are also present as well as newspaper clippings documenting public reaction to the Supreme Court ruling in various local communities. A folder labeled “Legislation” contains a copy of House Bill No. 2 introduced by Messrs. Eshleman, Royer, Rutherford and Dengler on January 21, 1963 and referred to the Committee on Education on January 22, 1963 that would have permitted reading of up to ten verses of Biblical passages without any comment at the opening of each school day while permitting any child to be excused from reading or attending unless a written request was provided by their parent or a guardian.  One folder contains legal opinions issued by the attorneys general of other states with regard to the case and these opinions are arranged alphabetically by the name of the state.  There are four folders containing the case pleadings for the Abington School District case and five folders containing the Attorneys General Amicus Curiae letters and briefs from Cornwall-Lebanon School District, the Maryland case, and the Regent’s Prayer Case in New York.

            Other folders contain publications, research notes, and rough drafts of documents relating to the practice of Bible reading in public schools.  Publications include “Should What is Rendered by God be Commanded by Caesar?” by Marshall J. Tyree reprinted from Phi Delta Kappan (November, 1962), Official Reports of the Supreme Court (Volume 374 U. S. – No. 2) Decisions of June 17, 1963 (Concluded) End of Term, Amendments of Rules of Civil Procedure by Walter Wyatt, Reporter of Decisions (Washington, D.C., 1963), and West Virginia Law Review (June, 1960).

Letter Press Books,
1875-1907.
(26 volumes)

{series #15.4} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

Indexed internally alphabetically by surname of correspondent.

Letter press books of correspondence sent by the Attorney General.  Included are date of correspondence, names of correspondents, opinions issued by the Attorney General and information on accounts settled by his office.

News Clipping File,
1973-1979.
(13 cartons)

{series #15.5} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by subject.

Newspaper clippings relating to such diverse subjects as family planning; affirmative action, discrimination and redlining; investments, banking and financial concerns; crime and punishment; conflicts of interest; corruption investigations in Chester and Delaware Counties and Harrisburg; hate groups; legal malpractice; organized crime; juvenile delinquency; health fraud; fair trade and consumer protection; tax evasion; and others. News clippings dating after 1981 are located in News Clipping File, 1981-1984 {series #70.1} within the Records of the Office of the Attorney General (RG-70).

Speech and Press Release File,
1972-1980.
(2 cartons, 2 boxes)

{series #15.6} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of document.

Transcripts of speeches delivered by Attorneys General J. Shane Creamer, Israel Packel, Robert P. Kline, and Edward G. Biester. Topics include: campaign finance reform; corrections reform; liquor control; religion and the state; women and the law; criminal justice and the court system; employee relations; privacy rights; consumer advocacy; and the war on crime. Also present are press releases for the years 1974-1975.  Speeches include name of speaker, and the date and place of presentation. Press release files include related newsclippings, correspondence, and memorandum. Subjects include cases before state and federal courts, consumer protection, crime statistics, and grant announcements issued by the Department of Justice. Also included are speeches within event files of Edward G. Biester for functions attended in 1979. This series is continued in Speech and Press Release File, 1981-1984 {series #70.2} within the Records of the Office of the Attorney General (RG-70).

Subject File,
1971-1978.
(3 cartons)

{series #15.7} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by subject.

Subject file of the Press Secretary of the Department of Justice covering such subjects as Banking, Fraudulent Charities, Collections Agencies, Consumer Protection, Crime Victim Compensation, Davenport 6-Hour Rule, Drug Law Enforcement, Federal Funding Case, Juvenile Corrections, Hare Krishna Sect, Horman-Rector Feud, Hot Pursuit, Lottery Information, Philadelphia Police, Pittsburgh Police, Public Welfare Department, Severed Head Case, Treatment of Prisoners, Waymart Correctional Institution, Wrongfully Imprisoned Men, and Wallace Report.

Suit Dockets,
1885-1953.

(9 volumes)

{series #15.162} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by subject.
Indexed internally, alphabetically by case name, at the front of each volume.

Suit docket books maintained by the attorney general's office. Entries consist of year, docket number, case name, and list of actions (filings, appeals, judgments, etc.) with dates. Cases handled by the Attorney General's office include Pennsylvania District, Supreme and Superior Courts.


Bureau of Correction

Pennsylvania’s correctional system played a major role in reforming corrections procedures throughout the world.  Solitary confinement and religious penitence were primary components of the early “Pennsylvania System.”  The “penitentiary” that embodied this philosophy was born in 1790 when reformers experimented with a limited penitentiary program at Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Jail.  In 1829 the Eastern State Penitentiary was opened in what is now Fairmount Park and until the late nineteenth century was the model for correctional institutions across the nation.  During the 1920s, Pennsylvania’s major prison facilities were placed under the jurisdiction of the Department of Welfare together with mental health facilities and institutions of juvenile justice.

A legislative investigation into prison riots at the Pittsburgh and Rockview correctional facilities in 1952 led to legislation signed by Governor John S. Fine on August 31, 1953 that established a separate Bureau of Correction in the Department of Justice to oversee needed reforms and to operate the prison system. At that time, the Bureau of Correction administered the State Correctional Institutions at Philadelphia, Graterford, Muncy, Pittsburgh, Rockview, Camp Hill, Huntingdon, and Dallas.  The Bureau also operated the Division of Correctional Industries that supplied manufactured and agricultural products to state-supported and state-aided institutions and the Division of Municipal and County Correctional Institutions Inspection that made annual surveys of local penal establishments. 

When the position of Attorney General became an elected rather than an appointed position in 1980, the Bureau of Correction was transferred from the Department of Justice to the newly created Office of General Counsel within the Governor’s Office.  Under Act 245 signed by Governor Richard Thornburgh on December 30, 1984 the responsibilities formerly discharged by this Bureau were assigned to the new Department of Corrections and records generated since that time will be found in the Records of the Department of Corrections (Record Group 58).


Annual Reports,
1975-1982.

(7 volumes)

{series #15.8} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Annual reports issued by Commissioner William B. Robinson to Governors Milton Shapp and Richard Thornburgh.  The reports are illustrated with black and white photographs of corrections facilities and provide information on the annual budget, methods of management employed, security, engineering, food service, personnel, staff development, special services, correctional industries, educational and vocational training programs, work release, community services, and planning and research.

Annual Statistical Reports,
1953, 1975-1982.
(1 box)

{series #15.9} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Annual statistical reports of Pennsylvania’s prison population issued by the Bureau of Correction.  Information provided is yearly annual population, average daily prison population per 100,000 in the general population, statistical breakdowns of the prison population by race and gender, county, and sentences imposed. Also included is a Special Statistical Report prepared by the Department of Welfare in preparation for the transfer of Penal Institutions to the Department of Justice on September 1, 1953.

Copper Printing Plates of Prison Inmate Images,
Undated.
(16 items)

{series #15.10} [Holdings]

Arranged numerically by inmate number.

Sixteen copper printing plates containing portrait images of prison inmates. The images are identified only by inmate number.

Miscellaneous Escape Records and Photographs,
1918-1959 and undated.

(1 box)

{series #15.154} [Holdings]

Grouped by format. Record of escapes are arranged chronologically by date of escape.

A record of escapes and unidentified photographs. Record of escapes includes prisoner name and identification number, date of escape or attempted escape, and remarks concerning their date of recapture, new prison number, or updated status (e.g. killed during manhunt, new prison location, etc.). Escapees are listed without prison affiliation; however, remarks indicate that some convicts were returned by or found in prisons in various states, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia, as well as in Canada. After January 1, 1954, the record of escapes is limited specifically to the Pittsburgh prison system. Also present are two undated, black and white photographs of the Merry Mad Caps Jazz Band and two prisoners working in an automotive shop.

Miscellaneous Papers and Photographs,
1940-1982.

(2 cartons, 3 boxes)

{series #15.173} [Holdings]

Grouped by format and subject matter.

Photographs and miscellaneous records of the Pennsylvania Industrial School at Camp Hill. Contains numerous black and white photographs, 5" x 7" and 8" x 10", and 2" x 2" slides of events, ceremonies, sports, musical groups, holidays, staff, and various work areas or shops. Shops include auto body, carpet, and print. Records include handbooks, annual reports, newsletters and newspaper clippings. Also includes color slides of various prison scenes including sports, prison grounds, kitchen, commissary, stockade, schools, employment office, library, print shop, visiting room, electronics shop, welding, body shop, and barbershop.

Miscellaneous Printed and Manuscript Reports,
1835, 1916-1954, [circa 1960], 1962, 1969.
(4 boxes)

{series #15.11} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Miscellaneous reports on such topics as the “Joint Committee of the Legislature Relative to Eastern State Penitentiary” (1835), “History and Development of the Pennsylvania State Institution, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, 1878-1952),”  “Sex Education Series: Study No. 1 and Study No. 5,” (1911, 1912),  “A Digest of the Laws and Statutes of the State of Pennsylvania Specially Pertaining to the Western State Penitentiary of Pennsylvania” (1916), “Reports of the Surveys Made from October 1921 to June 1922 by the Bureau of Restoration, Department of Welfare . . .” (1922), “A Psychological and Educational Survey of 1,916 Prisoners in the Western Penitentiary of Pennsylvania” (1924-1926), “Analysis of the Trades Taught in the Pennsylvania Industrial Reformatory, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania” (1929), “A Report of the Trades Taught in the Pennsylvania Industrial Reformatory, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania” (1936), “Biennial Report of Pennsylvania Industrial School, Camp Hill “ (1942-1944), general correspondence and audit reports of prison industries by Main and Company (1927-1952), and monthly activity reports of the Board of Corrections (1939-1946).  Also present are reports of committees appointed by Governor Edward Martin and Governor John S. Fine to survey the Commonwealth’s correctional system.

Miscellaneous Records about Various State Correctional Institutes,
undated, 1829-1976.
(1 carton)

{series #15.146} [Holdings]

Grouped by correctional institute.

Miscellaneous records about various state correctional institutions, including Eastern and Western State Penitentiaries, Industrial Reformatories at Huntingdon and Camp Hill, and New Eastern State Penitentiary at Graterford. Records include: commutation lists, publications, pardons, financial documents, photographs, reports, and guard files.

Official Calendar Books,
1977-1983.
(7 items)

{series #15.12} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of calendar.

Annual calendars issued by the Bureau of Corrections illustrated with photographs of correctional facilities and prisoner art, as well as containing brief historical sketches on the history of the correctional facilities.

Press Office History File,
1829-1981.
(22 boxes)

{series #15.13} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by name of prison and thereunder by subject.

Correspondence, newspaper clippings, brochures, memoranda, resolutions, architectural drawings, annual reports, printed histories, prisoner identification records, commitment papers, Bertillon measurement book, and photographic file maintained by the press office of the Bureau of Corrections.  The photographic negatives and prints are each arranged numerically within their group and depict a variety of routine inmate activities.

Special Investigation Records,
1950-1953.
(4 boxes)

{series #15.14} [Holdings] [RESTRICTED]

Grouped alphabetically by name of institution. 

Correspondence, news clippings, transcripts, and reports relating to special investigations into escapes, assaults, riots, union activities and inmate deaths at the Eastern State Penitentiary, Graterford, White Hill, Western State Penitentiary and Rockview.  Information provided is date of activity, names of principals, description of the investigation, and sometimes any corrective action that resulted.

Because some records in this series contain sensitive information, the Archives staff will determine the researcher's level of accessibility.

State Prisoner Statistical Reports of Weekly Admissions and Discharges,
1953-1962.
(13 cartons)

{series #15.15} [Holdings]

Grouped alphabetically by name of institution and arranged thereunder chronologically by date of record.

Weekly census, population counts, admissions and discharge statistical reports for the Eastern Correctional Diagnostic and Classification Center, Eastern State Penitentiary, Pennsylvania Institution for Defective Delinquents, Pennsylvania Industrial School, State Correctional Institution for Women, State Penitentiary at Graterford, State Penitentiary at Rockview, Western Correctional Diagnostic Center, Western State Penitentiary, State Correctional Institutions at Camp Hill, Dallas, Graterford, Huntingdon, Muncy, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Rockview. Information provided in census records include breakdowns of the prison population by race, adults and juveniles, "lifers," "barr walker cases," habitual criminals, deficient delinquents, "death house" inmates, and infants.

Publications,
1898-1910, 1955, 1963, 1965, [circa 1980], and undated,

(3 boxes)

{series #15.156} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of publication.

Various publications collected by the Bureau of Corrections, including a bibliography of correctional publications, employee and officer hand books, prisoner publications, and a newsclipping scrapbook. The Detective: Official Journal of the Police Authorities and Sheriffs of the United States, published monthly, includes bulletins for missing persons, rewards for information or capture of wanted criminals, and advertisements for law enforcement items (flashlights, handcuffs, uniforms, badges, clubs, etc.). Each bulletin includes a photograph or likeness of the person and/or physical description with Bertillon numbers, along with criminal history or further information. The Journal of Prison Discipline and Philanthropy, an annual publication issued by the Pennsylvania Prison Society, outlines the history of crime and corrections in Pennsylvania, including reforms; abuses; prison and court system; convict labor; rewards and penalties; crime and its causes; prison guards and wardens; juvenile crime; and statistics. The newsclipping scrapbook was compiled by George Vaux, Jr. during his tenure as Inspector of the State Penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania


Bureau of Investigations and Civil Rights

The Bureau of Investigations and Civil Rights was responsible for investigating any violation of the state law when so requested by the Attorney General, ranging from forgery to illegal use of state equipment. Another important function of this Bureau was to investigate violations of civil rights.
Civil Rights Investigation Files,
1956-1961, 1965-1969.

(2 cartons, 3 boxes)

{series #15.167} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by case file or topic.

Civil rights investigation files compiled by the Bureau of Investigations and Civil Rights, including individual case files, closed case index for 1965-1969, and files relating to the 1969 Civil Rights disorders in Pittsburgh. Individual case files contain pamphlets, correspondence, reports, newsclippings, transcripts of testimony, supporting legal documents, and/or complaint-allegation and investigation forms. Complaint or allegation forms include: complaint number and date; nature of complaint; division pertaining to (Investigation or Civil Rights); name, address, and telephone of person reporting issue; name of person receiving report and how (telephone, mail, or interview); details of complaint or allegation; investigator assigned to; date complaint closed or case opened, and additional remarks. Investigation forms include title (name of individual/department/business, and address); date of form and investigation period; name of investigator; character of case (e.g. civil rights); synopsis of findings; and references.

Civil rights disorders in Pittsburgh (1969) files contain correspondence, newsclippings, reports, and related documents. File topics include: Democratic Association of Black Brothers (also known as "Black Berets"), Black Power groups, leaders of protests, and other protests or civil disturbance events. Location files include: Homewood, North Versailles, Garfield, Northside, Wilkinsburg, and Hazelwood. Schools include Oliver High, Hazelwood High, Herron Hill Junior High, University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), and Black Day Boycott and School Walkout (January 24, 1969).

Close case index includes title (department or individual name, address, or case name); case number; source of complaint or allegation; how received (via telephone, mail, in person) and by whom; agent assigned to and date; reports received (subject, agent, date); date investigation reassigned or report completed; actions taken (administrative, disciplinary, or criminal), and any cross references. Topics covered include: violations of acts or laws; routine surveys; background checks; trespass; mistreatment; fraud; election code; civil rights violations; police brutality; employee misconduct; and improper use of government time, supplies, or funds.

Philadelphia Voter Fraud Investigation Index File,
1960-1961.

(2 boxes)

{series #15.166} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname.

Index card file of Philadelphia voter fraud investigations. Information on each card varies, but may include: name, address, district or ward, names of investigators, report number, or actions taken (if any).


Board of Pardons

The Board of Pardons reviews criminal cases, except impeachment, to determine whether clemency should be recommended to the Governor for his or her approval or disapproval.  While the United States' Constitution grants the President of the United States the power to grant pardons, in Pennsylvania the pardoning power is shared between the Board of Pardons and the Governor.  The Board of Pardons consists of five members including the Lieutenant Governor who serves as chairman, the Attorney General, and three members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.

Calendars Summarizing Each Case to be Considered,
1893, 1894, 1898, 1901, 1932, 1943-1969.
(11 cartons)

{series #15.16} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date pardon was scheduled to be considered.

Calendars providing summaries of each of the cases considered by the Board of Pardons.  Information provided is date hearing was scheduled, name of inmate, inmate number, county and court where sentenced, crime for which sentenced, sentence imposed, date application was filed, number of previous arrests and convictions, a description of the crime committed, a record of the inmate’s behavior while imprisoned, amount of fees imposed, and decision rendered by the Board. Volumes dated after 1943 contain handwritten and typed notes on each applicant and a case summary. Records after 1956 are typically handwritten on forms and contain such additional information as name of institution where incarcerated, accounts of both the official and the applicant's version of the crime committed, arrest records, conduct record, recommendations by the Board of Pardons, and occasionally comments regarding the inmate's psychiatric and psychological condition.

Clemency File,
1874-1900, 1906-1907, 1948-1962.
(70 cartons, 3 boxes)

{series #15.17} [Holdings]

Arranged alphabetically by surname of inmate petitioning for clemency.

Summary sheets, correspondence, petitions, court transcripts, newspaper notices, copies of death warrants, and pardon proclamations relating to clemency granted to inmates by the Governor and the Board of Pardons.  Information provided varies with each dossier and time period but generally includes name of inmate, nature of crime, basis of petition for clemency, and occasionally the inmate’s occupation and details concerning personal life and family.  In a few cases photographs of the inmate are also present.  Included are case files relating to a number of alleged members of the Molly Maguires, a secret labor organization of Irish-American anthracite coal miners that was active in northeastern Pennsylvania from 1865-1875.

Commutation and Parole Books,
1907-1932.
(3 volumes)

{series #15.18} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

First volume indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of inmate and the other two volumes by institution.

Recommendations sent to the Governor by the Board of Pardons for granting commutation or parole.  A commutation is the changing of a penalty to a lesser punishment by the pardoning power while a parole is a conditional release of a prisoner having an indeterminate or unexpired sentence.  Information provided is date of recommendation, name of inmate recommended for commutation or parole, the text of the opinion of the Parole Board recommending commutation or parole and the commutation or parole number.

Commutation Lists of Prisoners,
1955-1965.
(1 folder, 1 volume)

{series #15.19} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of commutation.

Lists of the names of inmates whose sentences were commuted under Governor Scranton's administration. Information provided is name of inmate, inmate number, and date sentence commuted. Also included is a commutation ledger for county prisons recording commutations approved by Governors Leader, Lawrence, and Scranton. Information includes inmate number and name, date of discharge, and offices or boards that support the commutation recommendation.

Commutations,
1967.
(3 folders)

{series #15.20} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of commutation.

Records of commutations issued under Governor Raymond P. Shafer. Information provided is name of inmate, inmate number, crime for which sentenced, date of commutation, and date discharged.

Death Warrants File,
1874-1899.
(21 boxes, 1 volume)

Microfilm Rolls #454-466

{series #15.21} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of death warrant.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of inmate.

Records of death warrants issued.  Information provided is name of warden, name of inmate, nature of crime, name of court in which convicted and place where tried, period authorized for the execution to occur, method of execution imposed, date of conviction, and date of execution.  In most cases the name of the official responsible for carrying out the sentence is also given and occasionally present are clemency petitions and trial transcripts. Included are case files relating to a number of alleged members of the Molly Maguires, a secret labor organization of Irish-American anthracite coal miners that was active in northeastern Pennsylvania from 1865-1875.

Discharge Books,
1871-1923.
(11 volumes)

{series #15.22} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of proclamation.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of inmate prior to 1906 and by institution from 1906.

Orders issued by Governors authorizing discharge of prisoners under the provisions of the Act approved May 21, 1869 and subsequent amending legislation.  Information provided is date of release order, name of prisoner, name of correctional facility where confined, date any amending legislation was passed, and the signature of the Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Letter Press Books,
1874-1883.
(5 volumes)

{series #15.23} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of correspondence.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of correspondent.

Letter press books of correspondence sent by the Board of Pardons. Information provided is date of correspondence, name of correspondent, names of inmates concerned, and the text of the correspondence sent.

Minute Books,
1874-1875, 1898-1901, 1932-1935, 1939-1970.
(1 carton)

{series #15.24} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of meeting.

Minutes of the meetings of the Board of Pardons.  Information provided is date of meeting, names of those present, names of inmates considered for pardons, description of the discussion, and description of business transacted. Also included is a copy of minutes from the Executive Chamber session of the Board of Pardons (January 15, 1874) with new rules adopted (May 4, 1875).

Pardon Books,
1874-1934.
(23 volumes)

{series #15.25} [Holdings]

Grouped into applications and proclamations and arranged thereunder chronologically by date of action.

Applications made to, and proclamations issued by, the Board of Pardons.  The applications volumes provide brief narrative case histories and recommendations for pardons or commutations and whether the pardons or commutations were granted. Volume 1 covering the period 1874-1877 provides reasons why the Pardon Board made their recommendations while for the period 1882-1930 records of commutation actions are included. The last volume covering the period 1931-1934 contains mostly commutation records with only a few pardon actions. The proclamation volumes provide the Boards recommendations and reasons for their judgments. 

Pardons,
1967.
(1 folder)

{series #15.26} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of pardon.

Records of pardons issued under Governor Raymond P. Shafer. Information provided is name of inmate, inmate number, crime for which sentenced, date of pardon, and date discharged.

Parole and Respite Books,
1910-1942.
(2 volumes)

{series #15.27} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by name of inmate.

Records of paroles and respites granted by the Governor under the provisions of the Act of 1909 and subsequent acts and of paroles revoked. Information provided is name of warden, name of penitentiary, name of inmate paroled or respited, crime for which sentenced, penalty imposed, date parole or respite was issued, period of respite in capital cases, and reason for a revocation of parole.

Record Books of Capital Cases,
1894-1969.
(2 volumes)

{series #15.28} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of inmate.

Record book of the Board of Pardons for capital cases. Information provided is name of inmate, inmate number, county, date warrant issued, date of execution, date certificate of execution filed and remarks that general provide dates of applications to Pardon Board, issuance of new warrants, and commutations.

Record of Respites and Execution Warrants,
1948-1956.
(5 folders)

{series #15.29} [Holdings]

Grouped by name of inmate.

Records of respites and execution warrants issued for five individuals: David Darcy, Theodore Elliott, Edward Hough, Harold Foster and Harry Zeitz.. Information provided about each case is date respite or execution warrant was issued, name of inmate, inmate number, crime for which sentenced, name of institution where incarcerated, and period during which execution was to be carried out.

Special Investigation Files,
1936-1937.
(1 box)

{series #15.165} [Holdings]

Grouped by investigation.

Special investigation files compiled by the Board of Pardons on attorneys accused of misconduct or unethical practices by inmates applying for pardon, parole or clemency, including Vernon Hazzard and Patrick McKague, esquires. Files include opinions and orders of the Board, reports of investigator, findings of fact, transcripts of testimony, exhibits and evidence, and related correspondence.


Juvenile Court Judges Commission

The Juvenile Court Judges Commission was created in the Department of Justice by the Act of December 21, 1959 (P. L. 1962).  The Commission advised the juvenile court judges of the Commonwealth on the proper care and maintenance of delinquent children, examined methods and procedures followed by juvenile courts, examined personnel practices and employment standards used in probation offices, and compiled and published statistical information used to improve the administration of the juvenile justice system.  The Commission consisted of five juvenile court judges appointed by the Governor for staggered terms of three years duration and the Commission appointed a chief administrative officer to enable it to perform its duties.


Minutes,
1862-1971.
(2 folders)

{series #15.30} [Holdings]

Arranged chronologically by date of meeting.

Minutes of the meetings of the Juvenile Court Judges Commission including reports submitted by the Executive Director.  Information provided includes consideration and approvals of county applications submitted under Act 46-A, review and consideration under the juvenile probation grant program, and discussions of the methods and procedures committee concerning the development of standards relating to intake, detention and administration of juvenile offenders.  Also present are transcripts of discussions conducted by members of the Commission at the annual meeting of the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges, meetings of the Task Force of the Joint State Government Commission, and juvenile court statistics.   Finally, there are materials relating to probation officer classification and compensation plan, budget requests for probation grant funds, federal project funds, and the rules of juvenile procedure. 


Office of Consumer Advocate

The Office of the Consumer Advocate was established through Act 161 of 1976 with the purpose of representing utility customers in matters before the Public Utility Commission and other state and federal commissions and courts. At the Advocate's discretion, he/she may determine the consumer concern and initiate legal or administrative action.


Reports,
1977-1979.
(1 box)

{series #15.161} [Holdings]

Grouped by type and thereunder arranged chronologically by date of report.

Reports compiled by the Office of the Consumer Advocate to apprise the Governor, Attorney General, executive officials, and the Legislature on the activities of said office. Reports include annual reports and summaries of operations.


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