Keeper Webster's
1930 NYC DOC
'Rules & Regs'

The family of the late Charles B. Webster has generously presented to the New York Correction History Society his well-preserved, shirt pocket-sized, black leather-bound 1930 New York City Department of Correction book of Rules, Regulations and Procedure, the title so proclaimed in gilt-lettering on its front cover that also bears the the name of then Commissioner Richard C. Patterson and the year.

The 72-page book, measuring 6 inches by 4 inches, constitutes the earliest known copy of what NYC DOC employees commonly call the "Rules and Regs."

The back of the 1930 title page records that the book was printed by M. B. Brown Printing & Binding Co., 37-41 Chambers St., N.Y. A message dated Jan. 1, 1930 from Commissioner Patterson appears on a page coming immediately after the front-of-the-book index of the various rules and regulations and coming immediately before the Rules and Regs themselves --

January 1, 1930

Every employee of the Department of Correction is expected to be informed of the rules and regulations of the Department, affecting his or her duty and conduct, as outlined hereafter and as hereinafter promulgated by the Commissioner, or by his or her superior officer.

The 1958 Rules & Regs issued by Commissioner Kross.

Ignorance of such rules and regulations will not be accepted as an excuse for any dereliction of duty or misconduct. The first duty of every employee of the Department is to familiarize himself or herself with the conditions governing his or her employment.

Richard C. Patterson,
Commissioner of Correction

In the nearly three-quarters of a century since Keeper Webster received his Rules, Regulations and Procedure book, the departmental publication -- given to every new employee as part of orientation -- has undergone numerous revisions and additions.

The 1958 Rules and Regs issued by Commissioner Anna M. Kross also had gilt lettering on its black leather-like front cover. The 67 loose-leaf 8.5-by-11 pages displayed the rules in double columns of tight, small fonted text. A rare copy of this edition of the rules book was presented to the New York Correction History Society at its organizational meeting July 13, 1999 by then Bureau Chief for Administration Sheila Vaughan.

The 1977 Rules & Regs issued by Commissioner Malcolm.

Some editions have resembled, in size and weight, the Manhattan telephone directory.

The 1977 edition, issued by Commissioner Benjamin J. Malcolm, had something of that look with its oversized 12-inch by 11-inch maroon color plastic cover (again with gilt lettering on the front) and more than 250 loose-leaf 8.5-by-11 page sheets, each printed on one side only.

An 8.5-by-5.5 inch loose-leaf version, issued in 1996 by Commissioner Michael P. Jacobson, slimmed the publication to about 250 pages, some 125 page sheets printed on both sides.

The acqua blue plastic cover was oversized -- 9 inches by 7.5 inches. Gilt lettering was gone. The cover featured the departmental shield logo superimposed on a cellblock scene from the former Rikers Island Penitentiary, now known as the James A. Thomas Center.

Somewhere along the line after the 1930 publication, the word Procedure was dropped from the book's title.

The 1996 Rules & Regs under Commissioner Jacobson.

Even in the 1930 book itself, aside from the cover and title page, no clearly labled "procedure" appears; that is, no single item is separately identified as "procedure." Section and paragraph headings are listed as "rules" or "regulations" or "duties," with the one exception being two pages devoted to "Department Recognition" such as the Medal of Honor, Honorable Mention and Commendation (Pages 15 and 16).

Further research will be needed to determine whether Commissioner Patterson's 1930 edition of the Rules and Reg was the first of its kind for the Department; that is, printed in a form easily portable while on the job.

That would be consistent with his establishing the Keepers Training School in 1928, the first such in the nation. Its curriculum outline was printed in booklet form because so many requests came from around the country for information about the school, a forerunner of the present Correction Academy.

The rule book presentation to NYCHS was made by Keeper Webster's grandson, Marck M. Webster, a detective in the NYPD Intelligence Division. Det. Webster is third generation city law enforcement. Marck's father -- Keeper Webster's son -- also was a member of New York's Finest.

A listing of retirees in the Department's 1958 annual report includes an entry for Charles Webster, giving Jan. 16, 1935, as his start date and April 1, 1958, as his retirement date and Rikers Island as his last assignment. (Arrow added.)
Keeper Webster served from the mid-1930s to the late 1950s, retiring as a Correction Officer, the name of the rank having changed during his more than two decades of service. He passed away a more than a quarter-century ago.

If you have artifacts of New York correctional history that you would like NYCHS to preserve and present for the appreciation of current and future generations, please contact us to make arrangements. If you are not ready to part with the artifacts but still would like to share appreciation of them, please send us digital images of them or photos of them that we can scan into digital images. Also send along descriptions explaining the articles.

We will post the images and descriptions in this Correction Artifacts Photo Gallery section.

E-mail us at to begin making arrangements. Please include a term such as "Correction Gallery" or "Correction Artifact" as part of the e-mail subject title. A callback phone number in the body of your message also would be helpful.

Then Bureau Chief Vaughan presents a rare copy of the 1958 Rules & Regs to NYCHS at its 1999 start-up meeting. Looking on are Barbara Margolis of the Board of Correction and Warden Gerard O'Gara.

By promoting recovery of correction history artifacts, the society seeks to prevent those objects becoming lost or their getting tossed into the trash by persons unaware of their historical value. NYCHS seeks to promote their preservation and presentation so that researchers, scholars and the public may gain better appreciation of the contribution to the New York commonweal by the men and women in correctional services, past and present.

A secure storage area has been made available to the New York Correction History Society for documentary archival and artifact collection purposes at the New York City Correction Academy in Middle Village, Queens.

For the NYCHS Artifact Recovery Program's purposes, an "artifact" is any object that was used or created in past New York correctional service and now could help illustrate the history of that service. The obvious ones include

  • hardware (such as but not limited to cuffs, keys, chains, locks),
  • clothing (such as but not limited to inmate and staff uniforms),
  • documents (such as but not limited to records, ledgers, reports and plans),
  • photographs, illustrations and signs.

More information can be found on the Artifact Recovery Program page.

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