Sordid Histories of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Volume 2

Today’s sordid history from Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary is the tale of Adolph Fein, the one-time vice-president of the Hebrew chapter of St. Louis’ Jefferson Club, a local organization of young Democrats that wielded considerable power throughout the state of Missouri at the turn of the century. Fein was a well-known politician in St. Louis but as we will see,…

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Sordid Histories of Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Volume 1

Leavenworth Penitentiary, the first federal penitentiary, was built in the late 1890s in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The first 400 inmates were processed in 1903, and is still operating as a medium-security prison today. The prison and its surrounding wall – which extends 35 feet above and below the ground – was officially completed in 1926. Inmates sometimes call…

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Prisoners in Hats

Mugshots were still new at the turn of the century. The people pictured here were criminals but their names, deeds, and victims are forgotten. Their photos appear quaint, and could never be mistaken for those of modern inmates. One interesting practice of this era was to allow prisoners to be officially photographed wearing hats. The hats tell us a lot…

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