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HAND BOOK of the New York State Reformatory At Elmira.

By Fred C. Allen, Private Secretary to the Board of Managers

This Handbook includes excerpts from board of manager’s reports and an abstract of laws relating to the reformatory.

The Summary Press 1916
Online Reprint by Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice 2004

The New York State Reformatory at Elmira

 Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4

By F. C. Allen


Schedule of outlines which it is required to pass in order to be graduated from the trade of bricklaying.

The total number of hours during which a pupil must work at this trade before he can be graduated is seven hundred and twelve, divided into thirty-five outlines varying in length from eight to thirty hours respectively.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………………..8 Hours

Character of Work—Practice in use of trowel and mortar board—properly placing mortar on board, then spreading it upon the wall.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………14 Hours

Character of Work—Practice in laying an 8-inch wall, without the use of plumb and line, spreading mortar for three bricks at a time, and striking joints.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………14 Hours

Character of Work—Same as No. 2.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………24 Hours

Character of Work—Building square piers and chimneys, striking joints.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………24 Hours


Character of Work—Same as No. 4.

Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Building an 8-inch wall, using plumb and line; also a chimney fire-place; learning to turn corners and form pilasters.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Same as No. 6.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Building a 12-inch wall using plumb and line; also fire-place flues; practive in turning corners and building pilasters.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Same as No. 8.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Building 12-onch, plain wall, spreading mortar for three bricks; practice in turning corners, building pilasters, and forming projections between pilasters to face of same.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Same as No. 10.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Building 16-inch wall, turning corners, giving attention to placing headers, outside and inside, making a high wall without scaffold.


Character of Work—Same as No. 12.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………16 Hours

Character of Work—Building a 16-inch plain wall, at the rate of 75 bricks per hour.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………18 Hours

Character of Work—Same as 14 (A) except that the rate is 100 bricks per hour.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………18 Hours

Character of Work—Same as number 14 (C) except that the rate is 120 bricks per hour.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………18 Hours

Character of Work—Same as number 14 (E) except that the rate is 140 bricks per hour.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………20 Hours

Character of Work—Same as number 14 (D) except that the rate is 160 bricks per hour.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………24 Hours

Character of Work—Same as number 14 (E) except that the rate is 180 bricks per hour.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………28 Hours

Character of Work—Same as number 14 (F) except that the rate is 200 bricks per hour.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………30 Hours

Character of Work—Building 16-inch wall, using "bats" for backing and filling, and placing flues in wall without projecting.


Character of Work—Building semicircular arches, 4-inch by 28-inch, and 12-inch by 16-inch.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………20 Hours

Character of Work—Building segmental arches, 4-inch by 8-inch and 12-inch by 16-inch.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………20 Hours

Character of Work—Building Gothic arches, 4-inch by 8-inch and 12-inch by 16-inch.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………26 Hours

Character of Work—Building dovetail arches, 8-inch by 12-inch.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………20 Hours

Character of Work—Building 8-inch wall, turning corners, setting door and window sills and frames, with semicircular arch over each door and window frame.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………20 Hours

Character of Work—Same as No. 20.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………20 Hours

Character of Work—Building 12-inch wall, with corners, doors, windows, bracket cornice, and pilasters, the pilasters to be connected by semicircular arches.


Character of Work—Same as No. 22.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………20 Hours

Character of Work—Building 16-inch wall, with corners, windows and doors; over windows, semicircular arch outside, segmental arch inside; over doors, dovetail.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………22 Hours

Character of Work—Same as No. 24.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………22 Hours

Character of Work—Building gables, plain, and with windows.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………22 Hours

Character of Work—Building arches, gables, octagons, and semi-octagons.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………22 Hours

Character of Work—Changing square to octagon.


Length of Outline………………………………………………………………..………22 Hours

Character of Work—Battering brickwork true to battering rule.

OUTLINE NO. 30. (Final Outline)

Character of Work—Building a test-piece as prescribed by the instructor.

NOTE:--All pupils before graduation must be able to lay brick, plumb neatly, and at the rate of at least 600 in eight hours. A lesson in mixing mortar is given once each month during the course.


The stenography and typewriting class numbers twenty-four pupils and, in addition to the citizen instructor, has a force of three inmate teachers. Its sessions are of two hours’ duration and occur on Wednesday and Friday mornings.

This trade comprises two branches—the art of the stenographer and that of the typewriter. The study of stenography necessarily involves the learning of certain principles and rules and the memorizing of many written characters, as well as manual practice with the pen or pencil; while the ability to operate the typewriting machine depends mainly upon manual practice. The methods of instruction therefore necessarily differ somewhat in character, and we shall consider the two subjects separately, in the order named.


He following is a brief description of the various outlines of the stenography branch of the class. The prisoner pupil is required to successfully undergo, commencing with Outline No. 1, a final examination on each of the twelve hereinafter described outlines, consecutively, before he can be graduated from the study of stenography proper:

The first eight of these outlines are termed theory outlines and have to do exclusively with the principles and writing exercises contained in Graham’s Handbook of Standard Stenography. The remaining four outlines are known as practice outlines, and include stenographic reproduction and oral transcription of business letters contained in Graham’s Universal Dictation Course.

A theory outline comprises three lessons in the handbook with their accompanying writing exercises.

A practice outline includes: work in the dictation book at the rate of thirty words per minute, for the ninth stenography outline, which is the first practice outline, or second fifty words per minute for the tenth stenography outline, or second practice outline, eighty words per minute for the eleventh stenography outline, or third practice outline, and one hundred words per minute for the twelfth stenography outline, or fourth practice outline. After passing the twelfth outline the pupil is graduated from stenography.

As hereinbefore stated, class sessions occur twice each week. The class of twenty-four pupils is divided into groups of twelve; one group working at stenography and the other at typewriting, each session; the groups alternating in their work so that each group has one session of stenography and one session of typewriting, each week.

One lesson, or one-third of one theory outline in stenography, is studied each session; three weeks being devoted to the study of an outline of three lessons; the fourth weekly session is devoted to a review of the preceding three weeks’ work, by the instruction, and the fifth session is devoted to an examination of the pupil on the outline of three lessons just finished. This plan brings the examination period of each pupil in the stenography class, every fifth week. Upon such examination, should he merit a marking of seventy-five percent, or higher, he is rated as successful, and begins the study of the outline next in advance; should he fail in his examination he is required to go over again the work of the previous outline, taking his examination at the regular five-week interval. Should a pupil be absent from session, his examination period is delayed accordingly, examinations occurring only after four weeks of actual study in the class. This, together with the irregular dates of entrance of pupils to the class, precludes the practicability of a general examination day. Under the present plan examinations occur from time to time, as the five-week study periods of the various pupils terminate.

Of the twelve stenography outlines, the theory outlines comprise the first twenty-four lessons in the hand-book, and as the outlines include three lessons each, there are eight of these groups or outlines, necessitating eight five-weekly examinations to be successfully undergone before the pupil may be advanced to the remaining four outlines of the course.

The practice outlines, four in number, conclude the stenography course. The final theory outline being number eight, the practice outlines are numbered respectively, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve; the last named being the final outline in the course. Each of these outlines consists of three weeks of practice work at stenographic reproduction and oral transcription of business letters, one weekly session for review by the instructor, and the fifth, or final weekly session, devoted to the instructor, and the fifth, or final weekly session, devoted to the examination of thee work accomplished. The rate of stenographic speed r4equired in the four outlines is as follows: for the ninth outline, thirty words per minute; tenth, fifty words; eleventh, eight words; twelfth, or final outline, one words per minute. Dictation on examination, in volume, is as follows: five-minute periods of dictation at the rate required in the outline, i.e., 150 words at the 30-word examination, 250 words at the 50-word examination, 400 words at the 80-word, and 500 words at the 100-word examination. Both old and new matter is; used on each examination.

Advancement, as rapidly as the ability or diligence of the pupil may render possible, can be accomplished by obtaining a standing of ninety per cent or higher, on any regular examination. This admits of a special examination on the next higher outline, and such examinations may be continued until the pupil shall fail to obtain the required ninety per cent standing. A failure to pass one of these special examinations after acquiring the right to take the examination, is regarded as a special effort made by the pupil and does not militate against his institutional record, his regular examination occurring at the specified time as under ordinary circumstances. These special examinations, however, are given only upon the expressed desire of the pupil, who may wish to make faster progress than the regular schedule admits.


The course in typewriting comprises twelve groups, or outlines, as does the course in stenography. The pupil is first required to carefully peruse a card of instruction in the use of the typewriting machine. The first outline is then given, which consists of exercises to be copied on the typewriter, and is designed to teach the proper use of all the fingers of each hand in the manipulation of the fingerboard. The second and third outlines comprise similar exercises, the pupil being required to copy typewritten exercises consisting of the alphabet, and words and short sentences, in which the first, or topmost line to be copied, has printed over it, figures denoting the proper finger for each letter of each word in the exercise.

After completing the first three outlines, the pupil receives the fourth which consists of printed instructions to be copied, showing the proper manner of writing a letter—where and how to write the superscription, body, and subscription, with directions as to the proper use of abbreviations, proper punctuation, paragraphing, etc.

The fifth outline consists of a business letter of one hundred words; this is to be copied, repeatedly, as were the previous exercises, during the sessions preceding examination, but instead of being required to copy this letter on examination, as was the case with previous exercises, he is required to type the letter, from dictation by the instructor, at the rate of twenty-five words per minute.

The sixth and seventh outlines consist of two business letters each, with examination-test at the rate of twenty-five words per minute; the eighth and ninth, two letters each, with test of thirty words per minute; the tenth and eleventh, two extracts from literary productions, not in the form of correspondence, with test at the rate of thirty-five words per minute. The twelfth, or final outline consists of two letters, with examination-test at the rate of forty words per minute.

The pupil has three two-hour sessions, on each outline, and receives examination on the fourth session of each outline. As in the stenography class, advancement may be as speedy as the pupil shall elect, although in this class, a standing of one hundred per cent is required before a special examination to the next higher outline is allowed.

The twenty-four pupils are separated into groups of twelve; each group having one session in stenography and the following session in typewriting. As there are twelve typewriting machines, one half the class is engaged, each session, in the study of stenography, while the remaining half is practicing on the typewriters. As there are two sessions of the stenography and typewriting class each week, each pupil receives one lesson in stenography and one lesson in typewriting per week.

Pupils receiving a marking of seventy-five per cent, or higher, upon outline number twelve, in stenography, and upon outline number twelve, in typewriting, are graduated from the class.


The military department is under the supervision of a citizen officer termed the military instructor; he is the commanding officer, or colonel, of the inmate military organization known as the reformatory regiment.

All prisoners, unless excused by the superintendent, upon recommendation of the physician, are required to become members of the military organization as soon as they are received in the reformatory. Practically all the prisoners in the institution are thus permitted and required to avail themselves of the advantages incident to military training.

Newly received prisoners, before they are allowed to participate in the daily regimental military exercises, are given preliminary training, in the way of suitable gymnastic exercises, for the purpose of improving their physical condition and personal bearing; and in the art of handling military arms and performing other movements with the aim of qualifying them to take their places, in due time, in the reformatory regiment proper. This group of beginners in military work is institutionally termed the "awkward squad." Its numbers are continually augmented by the acquisition of new arrivals at the reformatory, and as steadily depleted by the departure of its most proficient members who are graduated from the awkward squad and assigned to the regiment; thus, the number composing the awkward squad varies, occasionally reaching one hundred and fifty and in exceptional instances, an even greater number. The average period of time passed in the awkward squad is five weeks.

The reformatory regiment numbers approximately eight hundred men; although of course the regimental roster is constantly subject to change on account of receiving reinforcements consisting of the graduates from the awkward squad, and losing those prisoners who, from time to time are authorized to leave the institution upon parole. The regiment is divided into four battalions, of four companies each. A citizen major is in command of each battalion and a citizen captain is in charge of each company. All officers below the rank of captain are inmates. The inmate officers include battalion adjutants, lieutenants, sergeants, and corporals, both of the gun and color squads.

All citizen officers of the regiment are clothed in dark blue uniform coats with trousers of dark or light blue according to the wearer’s rank. As in the regular army, the rank of each citizen officer is definitely denoted by his shoulder straps. A citizen officer’s official uniform, as required by his rank in the reformatory regiment, is considered as his regular institutional uniform, hence it is not necessary that he should make any material change in his clothing except to don his sword belt, before taking his place in the regiment at dress parade.

The inmate officers’ summer uniforms are of khaki (a thin material yellowish in color). In winter these are replaced by uniform suits of heavier, light blue cloth. The inmate officer’s rank is designed by shoulder straps, or chevrons, as his title may require. His institutional uniform, like that of the citizen officer, is practically identical with that required by his military duty, and for dress parade purposes, little change is made except that white cross belts are added and if he is a lieutenant, his sword belt is included in his equipment.

The rank and file of the regiment wear summer uniforms of khaki and winter uniforms of heavy cloth; the coats are black, the trousers gray. Their uniforms, like those of the citizen and inmate officers, are not materially changed before entering the dress parade except that the regulation white cross belts are put on. However, should any certain number of inmates chance to be engaged in labor, a t which there is a likelihood of their clothing becoming soiled, the are provided with working suits which they must change for their regular uniform at dress parade time.

During military exercises, all the citizen officers of the regiment, viz: the colonel, lieutenant-colonel, majors, and captains, carry swords, as do inmate officers of higher rank than second sergeant, namely, lieutenants and adjutants. The remainder of the inmate officers and the rank and file of the regiment, are equipped with wooden models of rifles for use in executing the manual of arms.

The general cut and style of the regular institutional uniform does not vary materially whether intended for officer or private; citizen or inmate. It consists of a sack coat and trousers of a military cut, the coat having a standing collar and concealed buttons and the trousers, a side stripe where required by the rank of the wearer. All officers, citizen and inmate, wear military caps with straight visor and chin strap. The rank and file of the prisoners wear caps of the same general pattern, having chin strap but without the visor.


The institutional class in music is under the direction of a citizen instructor, who utilizes the services of inmate teachers as needed. Pupils in the class in music have their class sessions during a certain period of the morning and afternoon of each week day except Saturday, which is the institutional bathing day as has before been stated.

The knowledge of music which it is possible to acquire at the reformatory during the average period of detention of prisoners is not considered adequate to afford a sufficient means of livelihood for inmates when released. Inmate musicians are therefore required to learn some one of the other trades included in the institutional curriculum, and take their places as pupils in the regular afternoon trades school.

Instruction is imparted in the manipulation and use of all instruments of brass, wood, and percussion, commonly used in a military band. From the most proficient pupils of the music class are chosen the members of the institutional military brass and reed band.

The band, when on regular daily duty, is in direct charge of an inmate instructor, or band leader, who selects the music to be played and gives attention to the manner of its execution. The march movements and playing signals of the band are controlled by an inmate drum major who, from his position at its head and several paces in advance, directs its movements with his baton.

The musicians of the band are clothed in khaki uniforms in summer, and light blue uniforms in winter. The drum major’s uniform is similar, with a black shako, worn only upon dress parade days.

There are twenty-five musicians in the band. When regular order for marching they are in five ranks, with five men to the rank; these, with the drum major, complete the organization. The instruments are distributed as follows:

Front Rank Two basses, two trombones, one baritone.

Second Rank Four altos, one baritone.

Third Rank Five clarinets.

Fourth Rank Five cornets.

Fifth Rank Drums, cymbals.


A reference to the ground plan of the reformatory will show that the institution proper is comprised of buildings so arranged as to partially enclose a considerable plot of ground, and that the enclosure is rendered complete by the addition of a brick wall. The institutional yard is in the general form of a rectangle and is divided about midway of its depth by a transverse wall which formerly constituted the rear boundary of the enclosure, but which is now called the center wall.

The yard walls are twenty feet in height and two or more feet in width. Upon the walls, at each of the angles, and at all gateways allowing egress from the enclosure, are located small circular wooden sentry-boxes, or turrets, each surmounted by an electric lamp and surrounded by a platform. Within the turret is a telephone connected with the administrative building. These turrets are for the use of the wall guards, of whom, more will be written later on, under the heading, "Supervision of the Prisoners."

The South Gate.

In addition to the main entrance at the front of the institution, there are three gateways leading to the reformatory enclosure; two of these are located opposite each other at about midway of its lateral walls; the third pierces the rear wall at a point directly opposite the front entrance. The accompanying cut shows one of the lateral entrances, known, from its location, as the south gate. At the top of the wall may be seen the south gate turret, with the wall guard at his post. One of his duties is to pen and shut this gate when teams are allowed to enter, or leave, the institutional enclosure.

The South Gate

Through the south gate pass all institutional supplies, and its opening doors discover to the arriving prisoner his first glimpse of the interior of the reformatory. The gate has two pair of doors; the first, or inner pair closes the entrance through the wall proper; from these doors, a high, walled, but not covered passage way extends outward at right angles to the wall for a distance of about thirty feet. The second par of doors closes the outer end of this passage. Both sets of gates are operated by the guard in charge of the turret, without leaving his platform. When it becomes necessary that a team should pass into the institutional enclosure, the outer gates are opened, the team is admitted to the passage, and the gates are closed. The gates in front are then opened, permitting the team to enter the yard. This arrangement very effectually safeguards against the escape of prisoners at these points. The other two outside gates are similarly constructed.

The Center Gate

Midway of the transverse center wall before mentioned is located the center gate, formerly the rear gate of the institution.

Toward the front, this gate opens upon the original reformatory enclosure, in which are located the prison proper, the domestic building, the power plan, the gymnasium, certain trades school shops, the school of letters classrooms, the laundry, the general bath room, and certain store rooms. A large part of the unoccupied yard space is utilized as a parade ground for the reformatory regiment.

The center gate gives to the rearward upon the extension of the original enclosure and is the terminal of what is practically an institutional street beginning at the rear gate (situated at the center of the present rear wall) and e3xtending through the middle of the enclosure extension. On either side of this street are located the remainder of the trades school shops, the regimental armory, the lumber yard, various store houses, and other minor buildings.

The accompanying cut gives a view of the center gate taken from the enclosure extension. Al institution supplies, after being received at the south gate, are inspected and accounted for at the center gate. The turret above has now no occupant as, since the building of the enclosure extension, it has been deemed unnecessary that a guard should be stationed on the wall at this point. At the base of the turret is the center gate office, in which is stationed the officer who inspects and accounts for all materials received at or shipped from the institution.

Although there are several small grass plots in the reformatory enclosure, the major part of the open space in concreted; and all roads over which institutional teams must pass are paved with bricks. The concreted and paved surfaces are so constructed as to depress slightly toward lateral shallow gutters leading to numerous sewer gratings, so that rain, melted snow, and cleansing water are easily disposed of. The pavement is sprinkled and wept, daily, in summer; and in winter season fallen snow is quickly loaded on the institutional wagons and carted away. No effort is spared to keep the enclosure in a neat and cleanly condition. A number of prisoners are regularly assigned to this work upon the recommendation of the physician, for the reason that they stand in need of more exercise in the open air than is afforded by the regular routine.

One of the small grass plots before mentioned, situated near the center gate, and opposite the parade ground, is furnished with seats for visitors who may wish to view the military exercises.


The institutional bugler voices the signal for the parade. Quickly the prisoners appear from various points within the reformatory, and wend their several ways toward the armory, which is the assembling place for the regiment.

A period of ten minutes, immediately preceding the sounding exercise with an accuracy and precision which both interests and impresses us. At the conclusion of the parade, the regiment, in company formation, passes the reviewing officer and returns to the armory.


This office is in charge of a citizen officer who is assisted in his duties by several inmate clerks and stenographers. The department is devoted exclusively to institutional matters as, the computing of prisoners’ accounts, the recording of their demeanor, school, and military work, etc. Also, through this department is conducted the correspondence with outside parties necessary to the obtaining of employment for prisoners about to be paroled; and here are prepared the necessary documents authorizing the parole, absolute release, discharge, or return for violation of parole, of each inmate leaving the reformatory. Many other business matters pertaining especially to the prisoners, find attention in this office.

All information concerning a newly arrived inmate which is possible to obtain, (elicited in large part at his interview with the assistant superintendent) is recorded in a large volume kept for the purpose in the record office. These entries may include the following: The prisoner’s right name (with aliases, if any), his photograph, taken upon admission, by the institutional photographer; his age when received here, education, religious belief, personal habits, previous criminal record, if any, and place of residence prior to conviction. In addition to the above, in this book is noted from time to time, each with its appropriate date, the inmate’s promotion or reduction in grade, his parole, and subsequent history; and if he should be a United States prisoner, or one retained for the maximum period specified in his commitment, because of having failed to earn his release by parole, the date of his final discharge is here noted. The volume in which this record is kept is named the biographical register.

Another volume in the record office contains a detail record of each prisoner’s daily routine. Here is noted his class, and assignment in the school of letters, and the trades school, with his respective percentage ratings, as shown by the periodical examinations. Losses of credit incident to failures in school examinations, and to infractions of institutional discipline, are here added to the amount of the prisoner’s indebtedness to the institution for medical attendance, food, lodging, clothing, and other supplies; the total, when subtracted from his daily earnings, showing his credit balance, to date. This book is known as the inmates’ conduct ledger.

The ledger is kept on the "loose leaf" plan so that the leaf containing a prisoner’s account may be removed from the volume after his parole, or discharge, from the institution, and filed in the record office for possible future references.

By reading the above, it will be observed that an examination of these volumes acquaints the seeker with the exact status of an inmate, even to the probable date of his authorization for parole.

There is also in the record office a large filing cabinet containing a series of drawers, each of which is devoted to the affairs of the inmate whose name and consecutive number appear thereon. In these drawers are filed the prisoners’ original commitment papers, their written reports to the superintendent, as required during the period of their parole, and all institutional notes or correspondence pertaining to them, including all reports issued against them for infractions of the rules, or for failures in school examinations, together with all letters written to the superintendent concerning them, by outside parties. These draw3ers are arranged consecutively, according to the prisoner’s number which each bears; and are placed in series.

For convenience in dispatching the routine work of the office, a plan somewhat similar to the "loose leaf," and known as the "card system," is quite extensively used. The cards employed for the purpose are each headed with an inmate’s name and number, the remaining space being utilized for whatever data is required; they are consecutively arranged in long boxes. One of the records maintained in this manner is that of the superintendent’s interviews with inmates; in this instance the card bears the date of previous interviews, together with any brief memoranda concerning same, to which the superintendent may subsequently wish to refer. Another use for the card system is in assigning prisoners to their various daily vocations; in this case the card contains a record of present assignment, together with previous changes, and the date of each.


For his guidance in making assignments, the record clerk has a room chart, consisting of a large blackboard upon which appear the floor plan of the institutional cell galleries and the number of each cell. All cells with occupants are so shown by having the small rectangular spaces, by which they are represented on the blackboard, occupied by pasteboard slips; thus the clerk can tell at a glance which of the cells he has at disposal in making his assignments. Upon this little card is noted the name, consecutive number, and peculiarities, if any, of the room’s occupant.

Upon admission, all inmates favorably reported upon by the institutional physician, are temporarily assigned to the "receiving gallery," a tier of cells especially reserved for this purpose. They lodge in these cells until summoned to the office of the assistant superintendent for the initial interview. After this takes place they are assigned by the record clerk to unoccupied cells, and notification of such assignment is forwarded to the school director and to the several supervisory officers in charge of the institutional corridors, for convenience in locating the inmates when their presence is desired elsewhere in the institution.

The initial examination made by the physician is for the purpose of ascertaining if diphtheria bacilli exists in the throats of the newcomers, and such as are unfavorably reported upon are transferred to the detention ward of the institutional hospital and remain there until throat-cultures, forwarded by the physician to the state department of health, Albany, N.Y., are pronounced by that department to be normal in so far as diphtheritic germs are concerned.


This department is in charge of a citizen officer, known as the letter clerk. All letters received at the institution, addressed to inmates, are ready by him, and filed, for delivery to the owners when they shall be entitled to receive them; he is also required to read all letters written and addressed to outside parties, by the inmates, under the rules relating to inmates’ correspondence, and such letters must be approved by him before being sent out.

The letter clerk’s office is the meeting place of prisoners and their relatives, upon the occasion of the latters’ periodical visits to the reformatory, as authorized by the rules governing such interviews, which take place under the personal supervision of the letter clerk.

After the reception and reading by the letter clerk of a letter addressed to an inmate, the name of the writer is sought in the recorded list of persons authorized by the management to correspond with the prisoner in question, and if the name is found in this list, the date of the receipt of the letter is noted on a card kept for this purpose, and the letter placed on file until the next regular day for the delivery of letters to the inmates. These days are as follows: for the first grade, on the first Sunday in each month; for the second and third grades, on the third Sunday in each month.

Should an inmate desire to reply to a letter thus received, he is required to write his reply on the day he receives his letter; both letters are then given to the letter clerk, who places the former, if approved, in the outgoing mail, while the latter is placed on file to be given to the inmate upon his departure from the institution. All outgoing inmates’ letters are very carefully censored by the letter clerk to minimize the possibility of unauthorized and improper correspondence, as mentioned in the foregoing, and should a letter of this sort be written by an inmate, it is at once returned to the writer, with statement of reason why it cannot be mailed. Inmates unable to read or write are summoned to the letter clerk’s office on the days of the delivery of their letters; and, should they receive approved letters, same are read to them;’ and if desired, approved replies may be dictated by them and duly dispatched in the mail.

Exception is made to the foregoing rules in instances of letters to inmates announcing death in the family, or letters of legal or business importance requiring immediate attention.

The above rules regarding writing do not apply to inmates authorized for parole, who are allowed to write and receive letters relative to employment when released, at which time all mail and packages which may have arrived for them during the period of their confinement are given them with their parole papers. In addition to applications for employment these men may write every two weeks to their immediate families and also receive all daily mail from their relatives or from friends concerning employment.

All information furnished the letter clerk relative to an inmate is transferred to a biographical card on which is entered his name, consecutive number, name and address of his wife, father, mother, brothers and sisters, or friends in the United States to whom he may write in case his family lives in a foreign country. In addition to these cards, the letter clerk has a general index in which is entered the name, consecutive number, and aliases of each inmate. When inmates are transferred to other institutions, all mail and other matter belonging to them are sent with them.

Inmates in the first, and second grades, may receive, once in three months, a visit from their relatives; but this visit is denied those in the third grade.


Each inmate is allowed to receive from his relatives, a floor rug, three by six feet in dimensions; also photographs of relatives, when approved by the superintendent.

Upon the occasion of a visit from an inmate’s relatives he may be allowed to receive a certain amount of fruit as a gift.


Inmates are not allowed to receive money from any person’ relatives of prisoners being especially cautioned by the management to enclose no money in their letters when writing to persons confined in the institution; nor to pay or send money to any persons representing themselves to be connected with the institution, or claiming to have the power to secure benefits or favors for, or the release of, an inmate of the reformatory.

Inmates are not allowed to use tobacco in any form.


It has been previously mentioned in this book that prisoners paroled from the reformatory are required to make monthly reports to the superintendent for a period of at least six months before they are entitled to consideration for absolute release. These reports must each receive the written approval of the superintendent of police, or other supervising peace officer, or reformatory parole agent residing in the town to which the prisoner is paroled. Under ordinary circumstances, it is the custom to parole an inmate to the town from which he was sentenced to the reformatory. All offers of employment, obtained by prisoners authorized for parole, or obtained for them, by their relatives or friends, are investigated by the supervising officers named above, who then make recommendations regarding same, for the guidance of the superintendent, in the matter of paroles. Supervising officers also frequently assist in obtaining such employment; aid being often needed in the event of the prisoner having no friends to whom he can apply for this purpose.

While it is not customary for the reformatory management to pay peace officers throughout the state for the work of supervising prisoners paroled to their care, exception to this rule is made in the cities of New York and Buffalo, from where a large proportion of our prisoners is received. In the city of New York the institution employs at the present time a chief parole agent, and two assistant parole agents, and in the city of Buffalo, one parole agent.


While all the reformatory employees have to do, more or less directly, with the supervision and discipline of the institution, as they may find it necessary, in their various occupations, to have charge of, or come in other contact with the inmates; and while, in such capacity, they have the authority to verbally reprove, or if necessary, to issue reports against the latter, the supervision department, proper, comprises those officers whose especial duty it is to supervise the inmates in their daily routine; and this class includes the present force of reformatory guards, numbering sixty-five.

A continuous supervision of the prisoners being essential to their safe keeping, the force of guards is divided into two groups, for day and night duty, respectively. The latter group is not large, for the reason that during the night season there are no assemblies of the inmates, as they are locked in their rooms after receiving their supper at five-thirty in the evening. The day watch, comprising the remainder of the guards, is separated in two groups, the wall guards and the inside guards. The former do duty upon the institutional wall, which is so constructed that it may be patrolled its entire length. Here is usually a wall guard assigned to duty at each of the wall turrets; these turrets being located, as hereinbefore mentioned, at angles of the wall, and at the gates permitting egress from the institution.

The duties of wall guards include the patrolling of that portion of the wall assigned their supervision, and if this should include one of the gates, the supervision and manipulation of the latter. The wall guards take their posts of duty in the morning before the prisoners go to their occupations, and are recalled at such time as the prisoners are locked in their cells in the evening.

The duties of the inside guards include the daily supervision of the inmate population as they are assembled in the shops, school rooms, corridors, at institutional construction and repair work, or at whatever employment the latter may be engaged. At breakfast, dinner, supper, shop, school, military, bathing, Sabbath, and all other assemblies of the prisoners, the inside guards are stationed about the institutional corridors, rooms, and enclosure where, assisted by inmate monitors, they supervise the "turnouts," as they are institutionally termed, and insure the execution of these movements in a quiet and orderly manner. The inside guards must be sufficiently versed in military exercises to be officers, if required, in the reformatory regiment, previously described.


The library contains approximately 6,000 volumes; in addition to which, subscription is had to fifty weekly and monthly publications, including three prominent metropolitan and three local newspapers, several religious papers, and many of both the standard and popular weekly and monthly magazines. In addition to these, there are many journals devoted especially to the trades in which instruction is given at the reformatory.

Included in the list of volumes comprising the library proper, are text and reference books pertaining to the school of letters, among which may be found works on art, biography, government and law, philosophy, religion, science, history, economics, literature; also reference books for the various trades taught in the institution. There are likewise many volumes of standard and popular fiction, and several standard dictionaries and encyclopedias.

Each inmate, upon the occasion of his initial interview with the school director, occurring soon after his admission, is furnished with a printed list of books, of which, one may be drawn upon a specified day of each week. The grade and character of the books allowed a prisoner depend in large measure upon his status in the school of letters. The list mentioned above does not include works of fiction, which are supplied by the school director, at the rate of one a week.

An inmate also obtains, once in two weeks, a trade journal, especially devoted to the interest of the trade he may be learning in the reformatory.

Members of the two highest classes in the school of letters are entitled to an extra library privilege, allowing each to draw in addition to his regular library book, one extra book, every second week. In addition to the above, any inmate may receive, at his option, a magazine every fourth week, in place of his regular book, while those who obtain an average monthly standing of seventy-five per cent, in the school of letters are allowed an extra non-fiction book each week.

For convenience in distributing library matter each prisoner is given what is called a library card, at the top of which are printed forms with blank spaces which the applicant is required to fill with his consecutive number, name, room, and class number while underneath are other blank spaces in which to enter the number of the book desired, and the date of application.


In 1883, "The Summary," an institutional newspaper, designed for the instruction and entertainment of the prisoners, was established, and it is still continued. It is an eight-page weekly, issued on Saturday evenings to inmates, citizen officers, and a necessarily limited outside circulation; the latter, chiefly public officials and others interested in penological matters. When possible, on legal or other holidays, a special edition, consisting of extra pages and an illustrated cover, is published. The Summary is edited and printed by the inmates.

The contents of the paper includes general news selected from the leading newspapers and periodicals, editorial comments, local institution items of interest to the prisoners, occasional articles contributed by inmates, or citizen officers, notices of an institutional character; together with a record showing total number of inmates at time of writing; also, number received, discharged, paroled, or returned for violation of parole during the current week; likewise a record of changes in grade, military standing, and other information of local or general interest. All matter of a criminal or otherwise objectionable character is carefully excluded.


The administrative offices are located outside the prison enclosure but adjacent to its main entrance. They include the superintendent’s office, the chief clerk’s office, and the general office. In the latter are located the desks of the bookkeeper, the junior clerk, and the file clerk, and in this department are conducted the general bookkeeping and accounting. All checks in payment for services rendered or supplies furnished the reformatory, are here prepared, the employees’ payroll is made; bills are audited, and checked; supervision and record is maintained of amounts received and expended against the several special appropriations authorized by the state legislature to be used for various purposes, including repair and new construction work. Briefly stated, the finances of the institution are administered in the general office.

The chief clerk has general supervision of all clerks, clerical work, and accounting, and is cashier. He is also confidential clerk to the superintendent, and, under his direction, has charge of the general correspondence. In the absence of the superintendent and assistant superintendent, the chief clerk has charge of the reformatory.

Persons having business to transact with the reformatory officials, or visitors desiring to inspect the institution, first two missing pages.

25, the various items of supplies may be ordered for delivery during October, of supplies for the three months mentioned, for which the general maintenance estimate has been prepared.

The efficiency of the general maintenance estimate ceases with the expiration of the months for which it is prepared, hence, if goods ordered on this estimate are for some reason not delivered until the three months have expired, thus rendering the estimate void, it becomes necessary that another estimate known as a re-estimate, be prepared and approved to admit of payment being made for the goods thus tardily delivered. Or, should it be found, after the preparation of the regular maintenance estimate, that certain articles were omitted which it is desirable to purchase, and estimate would be made, and approval asked, for purchasing such supplies. Again, if quantities ordered in bulk, as coal, arrive in greater amount than was specified for any month, which at times is unavoidable, it becomes necessary to make an estimate to allow for the payment of excess quantities. Also, should the services of an employee be engaged after the estimate has been prepared, a special estimate would be necessary before his salary could be paid for the month in question. Lastly, it sometimes occurs that there is delay in the reception of replies to requests for quotations of prices. The preparation of the estimate may not be longer delayed; approximate prices are taken by the steward’s department; while in the interim, possible purchase-prices may have advanced, thus necessitating the preparation of a supplemental, excess-price, estimate.

All the above are known as supplemental estimates to the general maintenance estimate.

There are also prepared in the steward’s office, estimates against special appropriations authorized by the legislature for construction work, etc. Estimates of this character are subject to the general rules, but are submitted at any time as occasion may require.


This fine large building is of fireproof construction, having a steel frame, brick walls, concrete foundations and floors, and a roof of concrete, covered with slate.

The building is 250 feet long, by 65 feed wide, and contains four floors and a basement. The first floor has the officers’ kitchen, the inmates’ kitchen, the bakery, general food storage rooms, and the refrigerating plant. The second floor contains the dining rooms for all the prisoners.


The hospital is under the supervision of the physician, the assistant physician, and one citizen officer; there are also several inmate helpers and attendants, composed in large part of convalescents. It occupies the second, third, fourth, and fifth floors of a division of the reformatory, located at the western extremity of the south wing; the rooms are well lighted, the walls, painted, and the floors are of concrete.

Ascending the stairs to the hospital, one comes first to the floor on which are located the surgical ward, operating room, pharmacy, dining-room, etc., all well equipped for the uses for which they are respectively designed. Ascending another flight brings one to the sick ward, or sick gallery as it is institutionally termed; this floor is all in one room; the beds are arranged around three sides of it in a row, and at a sufficient distance from the wall and from each other to admit of convenience of movement on the part of physicians and attendants. Beside each bed is placed a small medicine stand; a table in the centre of the room, with the usual equipment of easy chairs, completes the furnishing of the sick ward. The next floor above is the contagious ward. The top of the hospital is in one large room, and is reserved exclusively for inmates afflicted with tuberculosis; its elevated location insures good light and pure air, both especially essential in the efforts made to combat this disease.

Each ward in the hospital is equipped with two bathrooms, lavatories, and toilets, and commodious compartments are provided for the storing of linen and other necessary articles.


The gymnasium is a brick structure, 140 feet in length by 80 in width, and stands nearly in the middle of the original prison enclosure. It contains an apparatus room, bath rooms, and dressing room; the floor of the former is of hardwood, polished, and the bath rooms and the dressing room are paved with marble titles. The building is heated by steam.

The apparatus room, or gymnasium proper, is 100 feet by 80 feet in dimensions; from its ceiling depend trapezes, rope ladders, etc., and ranged around its walls are other pieces of apparatus used in athletic work; among these may be enumerated a variety of pulley and weight arrangements designed to strengthen the muscles of the neck, chest, abdomen, and limbs, by affording exercise in a variety of movements arranged and classified for this purpose; likewise, vaulting bars, horizontal and inclined ladders, traveling rings, and other devices to aid in improving physical development.

Extending around the four sides of the room at about mid-way of its height, is a padded gallery for running, one-sixteenth of a mile in length, giving facilities for exercising the limbs and lungs without taking up the space of the floor beneath, which may be utilized at the same time, for other work. The gymnasium is of sufficient capacity to accommodate 200 pupils at a time.

A special suit of clothes is furnished each inmate assigned to gymnasium treatment; this suit is worn only during class sessions and is composed of a loose, sleeveless, knit shirt, white duck trousers, and leather-soled, canvas slippers. Every inmate assigned to the gymnasium keeps his class suit in a small compartment allotted to him for this purpose.

The physical culture class numbers about 100 in the forenoon and 50 in the afternoon and is made up of inmates assigned from time to time by the physician, to the gymnasium for special treatment; its sessions are held each week-day forenoon and afternoon with the exception of Saturday, upon which day two class sessions are held in the afternoon, because the regular institutional bathing period is on Saturday morning. The class sessions are of two hours’ duration. The pupils of the class remain so assigned until in the judgment of the physician they are sufficiently improved, physically, to admit of their return to the routine. Certain body measurements are taken of the pupils upon their admission to the class, and these are repeated, from time to time, by the physical director, and a record of the same is kept for the purpose of ascertaining the rate of improvement.

At the conclusion of each class session the pupils take a hot shower-bath, and, where pupils are fit, which obtains in a majority of instances, a cold plunge in the swimming pool follows.

In the gymnasium class-work, the Ralston system is sued. The pupils perform the various exercises in time to piano music. At the conclusion of each set of these exercises the pupils enjoy a short rest, after which the next set commences. The management considers that these manual exercises without the use of apparatus are best adapted to the class of boys assigned to this department.

Chief among the results sought in requiring these movements is the attainment of an upright and manly bearing, enabling the pupil to appear to much better advantage upon ultimately taking his place in the military organization.

The physical culture class sessions are so arranged that the pupils in them are not deprived of trades instruction, but where pupils are considered by the physician able to profit from such instruction they receive their regular trades school assignment.


This room occupies space of the first floor of a brick, iron, and concrete building of fireproof construction, standing in the original prison enclosure, near the centre gate.

The bath room is 285 feet long, by 65, wide. A longitudinal partition wall through the centre of the building separates the bathroom from the laundry, which occupies equal space on the opposite side of the building.

The lower windows of the building’s west wall furnish the bath room light by day; if used by night, it is illuminated by incandescents, conveniently placed. Steam heat is supplied by the central power house. The room has concrete ceiling and floor, the latter having a gentle slope from the longitudinal centre to the sides. Extending along each longitudinal side and close to the walls of the room is a shallow trench in the concrete floor. Over these two trenches are placed the booths for bathing.

Each of the booths is walled with slate, upon three of its sides, the fourth, opening toward the longitudinal centre of the room, is closed by a spring-hinged wooden door. The slate walls of the booth are six feet in height, while the door in front is much foreshortened at both top and bottome, permitting a thorough supervision of the booth by the officer in charge.

Extending longitudinally through the centre of the room is a wooden platform, elevated three feet above the floor; this platform is patrolled by the officers having charge of the bath room upon the regular days for bathing the prisoners.

Water for bathing is supplied by a two-inch, horizontal pipe, having a small, spray-nozzle branch depending over the centre of each booth. Each of these branches has its controlling valve, operated by mans of a small chain hanging within reach of the bather. In an angle of the booth is placed a small, metal soap dish. The temperature of the water for bathing is regulated by a water heater, installed at the end of the room.

There are 100 booths in the bath room. Opposite each of the two rows of booths is a door leading to the laundry storeroom.


This is a capacious room, occupying one end of the building in which are located the laundry and bath rooms, and affording, by means of suitably placed doors, communication with each of these rooms. Small wooden compartments contain the prisoners’ newly washed underwear, pillow slips, etc., as they are received from the laundry. On the outside of each compartment appears the consecutive number of the inmate whose property it contains.


With the exception of certain prisoners (kitchen helpers, outside workers, and the like, who are allowed to bathe more frequently than the others on account of the peculiar character of their work) the entire inmate population bathes on Saturday morning of each week, the modus operandi being as follows:

The prisoners march in double rank to the corridor leading to the bath room; here the even and odd consecutive numbers are placed in respective lines. They then pass to the laundry store room, adjoining the bath room, where each deposits certain of his soiled articles and receives his quota of clean garments, pillow slips, etc., from the laundry officer and his assistants. They next pass into the bathroom, the even numbers taking the right and the odd numbers, the left row of booths. Each prisoners places his clothes upon the bench in front of his booth. He is allowed five minutes in which to complete his bath, after which he dons his clean garments and resumes his place in the ranks, depositing as he passes out, his soiled underwear in a receptacle prepared for the purpose.


The laundry is a long room, parallel to the bath room, but on the opposite side of the building; it is lighted by the east windows of the latter. Like the bath room, it has a concrete ceiling and floor. A door at the end of the room affords communication with the laundry store room.

Near the side next the bath room is placed a row of six, cylindrical, rotary washers; motion is imparted to these washer by means of gearing, suitably connected with a line shaft operated by an electric motor. The washers may be operated singly, or together, as desired. At the axle of each is an arrangement whereby water and steam can be admitted to the cylinder or chamber in which the clothes are placed. A large iron tank, five or six feet in height by as many in diameter, is used for preparation of soap-suds.

Occupying space in a line parallel to the row of washers are four machines known as centrifugal extractors, which perform the work of clothes wringers. The principal feature of an extractor consists of a hollow cylinder which rotates upon a vertical spindle. When this cylinder is filled with newly washed material and caused to revolve rapidly, the centrifugal force generated forces the moisture in the material outward to the walls of the cylinder, through which it escapes by numerous small openings. The material, after being whirled in this for five minutes is removed, nearly dry.

Not far away stands the large mangle, between whose long heated, cloth-covered rollers, the larger pieces of material, as sheets and table cloths are passed for the purpose of pressing them; the mangle takes the place of the ironing board for this class of material.

In the laundry is also installed a steam heated dryer, consisting of twenty, uniform, galvanized iron, vertical compartments, containing sliding frames, the whole arrangement being not unlike the compartments and slides of a photographer’s camera. The slides are iron frames about eight feet square, having cross bars upon which to hand the clothing or other material to be dried. To aid in moving these slides in and out of their respective compartments, they are suspended by rollers from iron tracks. Heat for drying the material is furnished by a coil of steam pipes placed beneath the compartments. Upon the outside of each compartment in the series is marked the class of material, as, sheets, towels, underwear, and the like, which it contains.

Ironing boards and other necessary facilities are furnished for the starching and ironing of the better grade of inmates’ shirts; practically the only class of articles subjected to this process, found on the laundry list.


The material to be washed is piled in a miscellaneous heap in a corner of the room. Inmate helpers assort and group the various articles according to their uses, each group being washed and dried separately, as, towels in one group; underwear in another, etc.

The washers are filled with the soiled material, cold water is admitted, the washers are set in motion and the material receives a preliminary rinsing; steam is then allowed to enter the washers, a couple of pails of soap from the tank is allotted to each, and the machines rotate slowly for an hour or two, the length of time varying somewhat with the material washed. A second rinsing with cold water follows; the machines are stopped, and the material taken from the washers, placed on wheeled trucks and moved to the centrifugal extractors. These machines take most of the water from the clothes, the drying process being completed by the steam heated dryers, in whose compartments the material is then placed, to remain for about ten hours, after which it is removed, and such articles as towels, pillow-slips, and sheets for the hospital beds, are passed through the mangle; while the better grade of inmates’ shirts are starched and ironed by hand. A final sorting is now made and each inmate’s quota of clean clothing, etc., is placed by itself to be ultimately removed and stored in the locker, against the time of his next bath.

Ordinarily, the washing of the material occupies three days, the drying, one day, and the sorting and placing in lockers, another day; the latter including the mangling, and the starching and ironing, where necessary.

The electric motor, before mentioned, operates all the machinery of the laundry.

Storeroom "B" (Clothing)