Archival Experience Reflection

Prior to interacting with SCUA’s physical collection, I expected to find information about the educational programs that Gill implemented at the Norfolk Prison Colony. However, the collection mostly encompasses a manuscript, which details a generalized explanation of what occurred at Norfolk and predominately focuses on the relationship between politics and the prison’s eventual regression. Here, by regression, I mean transitioning toward more typical, restrictive penal facilitation. Notably, the prison ran successfully at first with its additional programs such as Inmate Councils and a Debate Society, but with the introduction of more men—of whom Gill decided were not fit for Norfolk’s more ‘loosely’ regulated prison—Norfolk’s benefits were quickly reexamined by both the media and leading government officials. Francis A. Hurley, an auditor, is said to have focused his investigation on missing money in the inmates’ accounts fund in an effort to use this information for later personal political gain. This focus eventually caused Gill to lose his position as superintendent and the prison to take a more traditional turn. From the various letters between O’Connor, Kellogg, and Parsons, I noticed threads of mediation in their communication. The collection consists mostly of letters between O’Connor and Kellogg, the editor of The Survey magazine. In order to learn more about this magazine and the context of publishing O’Connor’s manuscript, I obtained a copy of Clark A Chambers’s book Paul U. Kellogg and The Survey: Voices for Social Welfare and Social Justice.

Currently, my inquiries are as follows: why do pieces of O’Connor’s work present information that could be ‘too’ detailed for publication; what are the relationships between the various men’s affiliations and politics; why must the men withhold certain information in different interactions; what is The Survey’s interest in prison?

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