Friday, June 11, 2010


Kansas City, (MO).On June 11, the National Archives at Kansas City will open a new exhibition, Mugged!: Facing Life at Leavenworth. At 2:00 p.m. a special curator led tour will be available for the public. This exhibition will take visitors on a behind-the-scenes journey through the halls of the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. The exhibition features records of the men (and a few women) who served time at the prison from the 1890s - 1930s.

Drawing from the diverse inmate case files in the holdings of the National Archives at Kansas City, this exhibition offers a glimpse into prison life in the United States during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Who were the individuals who lived within Leavenworth's prison walls? What life experiences do records from these inmate case files show over 100 years later? Visitors to this exhibition will have the opportunity to create their own inmate case file as they journey through the exhibit learning about the prison intake process and day-to-day life behind bars at Leavenworth.

Mugged! features famous and not-so-famous inmates from Leavenworth, including Robert Stroud, known as "The Birdman of Alcatraz"; African-American heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson; 15-year-old arsonist Lizzie Cardish; and Prohibition-era gangster George "Machine Gun" Kelly.

"On an individual level these records provide more biographical data than almost any other federal documents. The stories of these people's lives really come through. Collectively they provide insight and context to the periods of history they come from that you can't get from reading a book. It's raw, unfiltered history and its effect is powerful," says Stephen Spence, Archives Specialist.

Located twenty-five miles north of Kansas City, Kansas, the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas, opened its doors in 1895 as the nation's first Federal Penitentiary. Under Congressional Acts originally passed in 1870 and 1872, responsibility for Federal prisoners was transferred from the Department of Interior to the newly formed Department of Justice. By 1930 the Bureau of Prisons was established within the Justice Department and still serves as the governing entity over Federal penal and correctional institutions.

Mugged!: Facing Life at Leavenworth is organized by the National Archives at Kansas City.


Mugged!: Facing Life at Leavenworth is a free exhibition and will be open through August 7, 2010. The National Archives at Kansas City is open Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. for exhibits viewing and Tuesday-Saturday from 8:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m. for research. Free parking is available for National Archives visitors, with additional free parking available in the Union Station Parking Garage on the west side of Union Station.

The National Archives at Kansas City is one of 13 facilities nationwide where the public has access to Federal archival records. It is home to more than 50,000 cubic feet of historical records dating from the 1820s to the 1990s created or received by nearly 100 Federal agencies. Serving the Central Plains Region, the archives holds records from the states of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The facility is located at 400 West Pershing Road, Kansas City, MO 64108. It is open to the public Tuesday - Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for research, with the exhibits open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 816-268-8000.


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