From 1776, when Pennsylvania became a state, until 1873, the
Commonwealth had no lieutenant governor. The office of lieutenant governor was created by the Constitution of 1873, and its functions and duties have changed little since then. The lieutenant governor presides in the state senate, performing duties as set forth in the senate rules, which the president pro tempore of the senate performs in the lieutenant governor’s absence. When presiding, the lieutenant governor signs legislation and other formal measures passed by the senate.


All of Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governors have served on the Board of Pardons. Since 1923, when the board became a unit within the Department of Justice, the lieutenant governor has held the powers and duty of the chairman of that board. The Commonwealth Attorneys Act of 1980 placed the administrative office of the Board of Pardons in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The office is constitutionally within the Executive Department and submits a regular budget request, but is not itself a department. As with the governor’s position, the Constitution of 1968 made the lieutenant governor eligible to succeed himself or herself for one additional four-year term.

Each prisoner’s file contains the following forms supported by additional documentation consisting of letters and other forms of communication. Each file contains a photograph of the prisoner, thus providing easy identification of African Americans, who are well represented.

Requests for Commutation and Pardons-Denied, 1948-1952. (21 rolls) {unprocessed} Arranged by date of document. Series contains the following sub-series:

Applications for Clemency provide the following information: name, case number and date of session, date of previous application, date and place of birth, aliases, court’s sentence, crime, name of institution, date sentence began, court and county of sentencing, term and number of indictment, nature of plea, name of trial judge, name of district attorney, name of defense attorney, nature of appeals, details of crime, a complete Pennsylvania arrest record, justification for requesting pardon, conduct during confinement, whether granted commutation, where and with whom prisoner would reside, possible employment, names and other information on relationship of dependents, new justification for latest application (if previously applied to the Board of Pardons), and name and address of lawyer who will represent prisoner before the Board of Pardons.

Classification Summary Forms provide the following information: date, name, race, age, number, alias, date and place of birth, citizenship status, address at time of arrest, legal residence, religious affiliation, marital status, parents’ birth dates, social security number, military service, sex, nature of offense, sentence imposed, date of indictment, judge, county, minimum sentence expiration, maximum sentence expiration, nature of plea, date of sentence, amount of back time, date received, new maximum sentence imposed, where inmate was transferred from, and a record of any detainers. Other information: height, weight, build, complexion, hair and eye color, any distinguishing scars or marks, nature of release (parole, re-parole, commutation) and the date, and a "criminal record" giving information on the date, place, and the nature of the offense and disposition.

Commutation Summary Forms were used by all prisons. However, in the case of Western State Penitentiary, the category "color" was added. Information found includes inmate number, name, alias, age, nationality, citizenship status, intelligence rating, IQ, mental age, and the type of intelligence test used. Under the heading "previous criminal record" is found the number of arrests, convictions, parole violations, and types of crimes. Under the heading "current case" is listed the crime for which the prisoner was most recently convicted, the county wherein the offense occurred, the term of court in which the conviction occurred, the name of the trial judge, the total sentence imposed, the date the sentence was imposed, the date the prisoner was received at the prison, the effective date, the minimum sentence expiration date, the maximum sentence expiration date, the total time served to date in prison, the names of any accomplices, and the final disposition of the case.

Summary of Investigation for the Board of Pardons Forms provide the following information: prisoner’s name, date, verification of allegations in application, parole plan (home, employment, and sponsor), and other information such as reputation of applicant, previous parole violations, and comments of the judge and the district attorney.

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