Missouri Digital Heritage :: Collections :: African American History Initiative :: Guide to African American History

Missouri State Archives
Guide to African American History

Department of Corrections

The Department of Corrections is dedicated to managing and supervising Missouri offenders who are on probation, in prison, or on parole. The Department administers court sentences that range from probation to capital punishment. Today, there are twenty-one correctional facilities and two community release centers in Missouri. The cornerstone of the correctional system in Missouri was the Missouri State Penitentiary, which opened in 1836 in Jefferson City, Missouri. It is the oldest penitentiary west of the Mississippi River. Originally, the facility only housed prisoners; today, it has a hospital, and industrial, academic, and vocational programs. Plans are in progress to close the penitentiary and move inmates to newly constructed facilities.

A number of series make up the collection of correctional papers, including the Missouri State Penitentiary series, and records relating to correctional homes for youth offenders, such as those in Boonville and Tipton. Most of the registration records indicate race, allowing researchers to understand the racial composition of the facilities; information about crime and sentence allow determinations about the relation of race and crime in Missouri in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Inmates may also be referenced in other series, including Governors' Papers, Pardon Papers, Restorations of Citizenship, and Extraditions.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Sentence & Judgment Papers, 1836-1897; arranged chronologically.

These records consist of court orders committing prisoners to the penitentiary.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Register of Inmates Received, 1836-1931; arranged chronologically; index available.

The Register of Inmates Received is arranged chronologically and provides a wealth of physical information about inmates, including name, age, nativity, height, weight, foot length, color of hair and eyes, marks/scars, etc. Also included are notes regarding education, occupation, religion, etc. Prior criminal information is noted, as well.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Register of Military Prisoners, 1864-1875; arranged chronologically; index available.

The Register of Military Prisoners includes information on a printed form. The following categories are addressed: name, age, nativity, height, length of foot, color of hair and eyes, complexion, trade (not filled in), remarks (usually regarding release), offense (entered only as "Military"), county (or place sentenced from), sentence, term of court, when received, expiration of sentence, marks and scars.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Register of Inmates Received and Discharged, 1866-1875 and 1943-1961; arranged chronologically.

The register of inmates received includes inmate number, date received, offense, sentence, county, occupation, nativity, age, training (church), education, marital status, soldier or citizen, and remarks. The register of inmates discharged includes register number, name, date of release and by whom, offense, and sentence occupation.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Dressing Register, 1870-1919; arranged chronologically.

This register contains the following information: inmate number, name, age, nativity, trade, height, length of foot, color of hair and eyes, complexion, whiskers worn, religion, habits of life, education, former imprisonment, offense, county, sentence, term of court, when received, name and address of parents, name and address of wife if applicable, marks and scars, weight.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Punishment Register, 1871-1896; indexed; arranged chronologically.

This register indicates name of prisoner, race, date, offense, and punishment.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Time Register, 1874-1967; arranged chronologically and by length of sentence.

This register is arranged by length of sentence (i.e., two years, three years, eight years, etc.). It includes the following information: name, color, age, county, offense, sentence, term of court, beginning and expiration dates of sentence, applicability of ¾ rule, inmate number, and remarks.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Individual Index, 1875-1885 and 1882-1892; arranged chronologically.

This record includes the date inmate was received, name, crime, county, sentence (in years), register number, cell assignment, place of work, and remarks (date of discharge, etc.). The indexes are segregated with white males indexed from 1882-1892 and black males indexed from 1875-1885.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Register by County of Inmates Received, 1880-1967; arranged alphabetically by county, then chronologically by date received.

This register contains the record of inmates received from the various counties. Information includes inmate number, name, color, age, offense, sentence and beginning date, and remarks.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Discharge Register, 1881-1906; arranged chronologically.

Similar in scope to the Register of Inmates Received and Discharged, the Discharge Register includes the following information: date discharged, name, color, age, nativity, occupation, county, crime, sentence, and remarks.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Statistical Data of Female Inmates, 1889-1928; arranged chronologically, then alphabetically.

These records consist of data regarding women sent to the penitentiary. Included is name of inmate, race, age when admitted, date of admittance/previous incarceration, sentence, offense, discharge/parole date.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Register of Escapes, 1904-1961; arranged chronologically.

This register indicates name, race, register number, county, court term, crime, date returned, and place of escape.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Bertillon Measurement Records, 1908-1931; arranged chronologically by date received and numerically by inmate number.

The Bertillon measurement was a system of criminal identification through the use of body measurements, markings or deformities, and fingerprinting. Information also includes name, race, age, and criminal history remarks.

Record Group 213: Department of Corrections: Missouri State Penitentiary, Bureau of Criminal Identification Record, 1931- 1969; arranged chronologically by date received and numerically by inmate number.

This record replaced the Bertillon measurements in 1931. It contains the following information: inmate number, date, name, residence, alias, age, date and place of birth, physical description including marks and scars, emergency address, prison record summary, previous criminal record.

Record Group 214: Department of Corrctions: Missouri Intermediate Reformatory, Bureau of Criminal Identification Record, 1932-1949; arranged chronologically by date received and numerically by inmate number.

This system of inmate identification includes the following information: inmate number, date, name, residence, alias, age, date and place of birth, physical description, emergency address, prison record summary, previous criminal record.

Record Group 217: Department of Corrections: State Correctional Pre-Release Center, Superintendent's Files, 1974-1975; arranged alphabetically by subject.

These records are administrative files, including correspondence, department memos, inmate information, and daily activity reports. Subjects include affirmative action, an Affirmative Action Association, and ethnic reports.

Record Group 225: Department of Corrections: Missouri Training School for Boys (Boonville)

The training school for boys at Boonville was founded in 1887 for juvenile males. It operated as a penal institution until 1948, when it came under the direction of the State Board of Training Schools. A significant change came with the commitment of juvenile males for an indeterminate time rather than a fixed term. The school offered educational, vocational, and recreational opportunities, supplemented by social service, psychology, medical attention, and religious opportunities. The facility was transferred to the Department of Corrections in 1983, becoming a medium-security center for adult males. Early twentieth-century concerns over segregation in the facility are voiced in the reports of the Missouri Negro Industrial Commission, stating that African American males were not given the same vocational and educational opportunities. Biennial reports are available in Record Group 000: Department of Corrections document collection.

Record Group 225: Department of Corrections: Missouri Training School for Boys, Commitment Registers, 1889-1975; arranged chronologically.

These registers include name, address, physical description, age, family information, and crime.

Record Group 225: Department of Corrections: Missouri Training School for Boys, Sentence and Judgment Papers, 1918-1977 (incomplete); arranged chronologically.

This series of records consists of certified copies of the sentence and judgment of each individual including nature of crime, length of sentence, age, and a health certificate.

Record Group 226: Department of Corrections: State Industrial Home for Negro Girls (Tipton)

The State Industrial Home for Negro Girls was established in 1909 at Tipton, Missouri. Opened in 1916, it was construed as a home for neglected and wayward girls, rather than a correctional criminal reformatory. Girls aged seven through eighteen could be committed. They were required to complete a state course of study through the eighth, later tenth, grade. Originally, classes included sewing, dressmaking, domestic science, art and music. Later, gardening, farming, poultry and dairy work, a beauty parlor, millinery, nurse training, and business classes were added. Spiritual welfare and entertainment opportunities were also important hallmarks of the home. Annual reports of the Home may be located in the appendixes to the House and Senate Journals, Documents Collection. The Missouri Negro Industrial Commission addressed concerns about the Home in its annual reports, as well.

Record Group 226: Department of Corrections: State Industrial Home for Negro Girls, Commitment Papers, 1916-1941; arranged chronologically.

This series contains physical description of the juvenile female offenders and other statistics.

Record Group 226: Department of Corrections: State Industrial Home for Negro Girls, Case History (incomplete), 1931-1936; arranged alphabetically by surname.

These records contain information about some of the residents of the industrial home. Included are printed forms and correspondence between the superintendent and citizens providing care for the residents during their time at the home and after their release.

NOTE: These records are closed. Permission to review must be obtained from the Department of Social Services, Division of Youth Services.

Record Group 226: Department of Corrections: State Industrial Home for Negro Girls, Record Books, 1938-1945; arranged by name of correctional home.

This series includes record books for several of Missouri's correctional homes for youth offenders.


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