Chaplains' registers of inmate case histories

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Chaplains were required to keep records of inmates' background, behavior, and progress at the institution and to supervise their parole. Gathered by Protestant and Catholic Chaplains, the registers may include inmate's name and number; date received; division assigned; occupation(s), religion(s), economic status, habits; family structure and background; educational background; employment history; legal and institutional history; offense; parole date(s); occupation and conduct while on parole; date of escapes and return to the institution. Records are restricted.
6 cu. ft. (16 volumes)
Inclusive Dates:
Bulk Dates:
bulk 1887-1907
Series Number:


By religion (Protestant or Catholic), then rough chronological by date received.

Scope and Content Note

These volumes comprise the Protestant and Catholic Chaplains' central files for all inmates.

The chaplains recorded background information gathered from interviews with each new inmate and from reports of clergymen and others who knew the inmate; information on the inmate's parole history or other post-institutional history was recorded later as appropriate.

The Protestant Chaplain's earliest histories (1881-1891, Volumes 1 and 2) were recorded on blank pages; all later histories (Protestant and Catholic) were recorded on forms printed in the volumes. Two-page forms were used for all Protestants and for Catholic females until 1894 and for Catholic males until 1895; all subsequent histories were recorded on one-page forms. The only significant difference between the forms is the omission from the one-page forms of sections designated for the recording of information on inmates reported by clergymen or magistrates who knew them; these sections are included in the two-page forms.

Aside from changes in format, the type and level of information included varies widely between and within volumes. Entries for each inmate may provide: inmate's name and number; date received; division to which assigned; date and place of birth; from where received or place of residence; parents: names, place(s) of residence, occupation(s), religion(s), economic status, habits (e.g. temperate or intemperate), and mental and physical health; if any brothers, sisters, or other relatives; amount of education and religious training; employment history; habits (drinking, smoking, pilfering, using profane language); inmate's and family's legal and institutional history (e.g. previous arrests); character and influence of inmate's family and associates; offense for which committed; opinions of clergymen, magistrates, or others regarding inmate, inmate's family, and inmate's offense; distinguishing marks (e.g. scars) and/or other physical characteristics; shop or school department to which assigned; date of first and any subsequent paroles and of return to the institution for violation of parole (Protestants only); where and to whom paroled (Protestants only); occupation and conduct while on parole (Protestants only); date of any escapes and of return to the institution after escape; if deceased: date and cause; other remarks, such as date baptized (at institution); newspaper clippings concerning arrests, accidents, or deaths of former inmates or

their relatives; and book and page in Parole Agent's Registers of Occupation and Conduct of Paroled Inmates (series A3144) on which further parole information on the inmate is located (volumes 4 and 5 only).

Beginning in mid-1906, the Catholic Chaplain recorded only the name, number, and date received of new Catholic inmates. These inmates were apparently sent to the institution's new site and the Chaplain did not have a chance to interview them for the history.

Institution bylaws directed the Chaplains to interview and take histories of new inmates, converse with them periodically, supervise their parole (as Parole Agent), and keep records of these activities.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Restricted in accordance with Executive Law, Section 501-c(1)(b), relating to confidentiality of individuals in custody of the Division for Youth (now Office of Children and Family Services).

Related Information

Other finding aids

Volumes 3, 4, 11, 13:rough alphabetical indexes to inmate names.

Series A3153, Indexes to Chaplains' Registers of Inmate Case Histories and Parole Agents' Registers' of Occupation and Conduct of Paroled Inmates.

Custodial History

The Department of Social Welfare placed these records on loan to the Syracuse University Library from 1960-1977.

Access Terms

Corporate Name(s):
Geographic Name(s):