Archive Record

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Catalog Number 89
Object Name Records

The Convict Hard Labor Collection consists of documents from the Baldwin County Probate's Office ranging from 1897-1933, and includes correspondence, bills for feeding prisoners, charges levied against prisoners, reports of sentencing, hard labor transcripts, contacts, and prisoner receipts from the Vredenburgh Saw Mill Company. The materials ar contained within eleven foldes in two boxes.


During the ninetennth and early twentieth centuries, Alabama generated a significant portion of its revenue, close to ten percent, from the leasing of convicts to individuals and corporations. Because companies had no vested interest in convicts, viewing them only as a cheap source of easily dicarded and replaced labor, the conditions were often deplorable and prisoners were routinely beaten for low productivity. Furthermore, because the demand for convict labor was so high, an uunsually high number of cases tried resulted in sentences to hard labor. The judge justified hard labor as a means of repaying court costs associated with trying a prisoner. Common charges resulting in hard labor were larceny, assault, vagrancy, riding a train without a ticket, and adultery, or fornication. Although the convict leasing system existed prior to the Civil War, many Southern states used it to circumvent the thirteenth amendment. Not suprisingly, a diproportionate number of African Americans were sentenced to hard labor. Bowing to pressure from activist groups enraged over poor working conditions and prisoner deaths, the Alabama legislature officially banned the practice of convict leasing on July 1, 1928, becoming the last state to do so.
Creator Baldwin County Probate Office
Title Convict Hard Labor Collection
Collection Convict Hard Labor Records
Containers Tennessee Coal, Iron, and Railroad Company Correspondence
Reports of Sentence, 1901-1910
Reports of Sentence, 1911-1918
Reports of Sentence, 1927-1928
Reports of Sentence, 1927-1928
Vredenburgh Saw Mill Company-Contracts and Payments for Prisoners, 1917-1921
Charges, 1928-1931
Charges, 1931-1933
Bills for Feeding of Prisoners, 1927-1928
Bills for Feeding of Prisoners, 1929
Bills for Feeding of Prisoners, 1930-1931