Source Information

Ancestry.com. Kansas, U.S., U.S. Penitentiary Leavenworth, Name Index to Inmate Case Files, 1895-1936 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
Original data:

Inmate Case Files, compiled 07/03/1895–06/06/1952. ARC ID: 571125. Records of the Bureau of Prisons, 1870–2009, Record Group 129. The National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

About Kansas, U.S., U.S. Penitentiary Leavenworth, Name Index to Inmate Case Files, 1895-1936

This series consists of an index of 49,000 records from the Leavenworth, Kansas U.S. Penitentiary of individual inmate case files. While the contents of the files vary from inmate to inmate, nearly all include a Record Sheet that gives several details about the inmate's crime, court fines, sentence, etc. Most files also include a mug shot photograph of the inmate with front and profile views and could also include a rap sheet of prior and subsequent arrests, convictions, and incarcerations. Additionally, account books, ledgers, annual reports, and journals are in the database. There are some discrepancies in inmate prison numbers and it is unclear why one is occasionally skipped.

The Leavenworth, Kansas prison was built in 1896 in the place of a former military prison. The Three Prisons Act passed by the Department of Justice, who became responsible for Federal prisoners in the 1870s, made possible the purchase of three sites for prison locations which included what became the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Supervision of Federal prisoners passed to the Bureau of Prisons in 1930, at the end period of these records, when the Department of Justice created it.

Prisoner stories vary immensely. Inmate #6594, a boy named Dan Tso-Se, was incarcerated for murder when he was twelve years old. Nicknamed "Nature Boy," his file records that he knew no language having grown up "in the wild." Prisoners Charles Wille, Joseph Wirth, and John McMonigle were imprisoned for violating the Oleomargarine Act (an act passed in 1886 to regulate the manufacture and sale of margarine, a product that was becoming an increasing threat to the dairy industry) with prison sentences ranging from 1 to 3 years.

Information in this database:

  • Name of inmate
  • Inmate number
  • Date incarcerated

Additional information that may be included:

  • Alias
  • Crime
  • Sentence
  • Court fines and costs
  • Dates of sentence, arrival at penitentiary, and ending of maximum term
  • Good time allowed
  • Occupation
  • Age
  • Date eligible to parole
  • Violations

Extra Info:

In the early 1930s, prison officials began studying the personal history of inmates to determine placement in treatment programs. The "Special Admissions Summary" resulting from this inquiry gives intimate details of an inmate's life which is incredibly all-inclusive. Starting with a review of the inmate's criminal past the records could contain a social service interview examining the subject's childhood, family life, living conditions, economic status, and attitude toward rehabilitation; a medical history, including neuropsychiatric report with mental age and I.Q. test scores; educational attainments; employment history; religious background and preference; recreational interests; and the reviewing committee's recommendations for custody and discipline, transfer, social services, treatment (medical and psychiatric), and training (educational, vocational, religious, and recreational).

How to Obtain Copies of Original Files:

The original case files are located at the National Archive at Kansas City, arranged numerically by inmate number. Please make sure to include this number when requesting a copy of a file from the archive.

The National Archives Central Plains Region (Kansas City)
400 West Pershing Road
Kansas City, MO 64108
Email: [email protected]