[1920s officers]
Correction History Quests Hq
Inquiries -- Responses
[NYCHS Shield]

The New York Correction History Society has initiated the Correction History Quests
[David Minor
For more on David Minor Did David
Slay Goliath
Quiry: How
'The Bing' Began?

Quest Tag: "The Bing"

NYC COs have long used the term "The Bing" as a nickname for the cells where unruly inmates are kept in locked - down status around the clock except brief times out for daily exercise, religious services, medical care, and attorney visits, etc.

Safeguards have evolved over the years to prevent the punitive unit reverting to the harsh treatment inflicted in bygone eras. In that dim past the term "The Bing" came into use but why?

History researcher David Minor checked US and UK regional dictionaries and noted how some said the term often meant "to go, or escape." The highly restrictive nature of Bing confinement seems the opposite of "escape," so Minor was not satisfied. He dug deeper and found the following in an old Scottish dictionary -- n. a bin or box for corn, wine, etc.

Could a Scottish word for a box or a bin have found its way into NYC jail jargon to describe the punitive cells? Recall in the past an isolation cell might be called the box in some prisons.

Let us know what you think: email webmaster@ correctionhistory.org

Headquarters to serve as a center for posting inquiries and responses concerning matters related to the organization's field of interest.
[Edward Brennan]
a Sing Sing

Quest Tag: E. Brennan

Hello . . . I am researching my family history and I am writing to inquire as to where the employee records might be held for Sing Sing prison. I'm told my great-great grandfather, Edward Brennan, was a guard at Sing Sing, perhaps around 1880s. Right now, I'm not sure of the years he would've been employed. Lived in Ossining. There may not be any records available. How far back do these records go and where or how would I get copies? My Edward Brennan passed away in 1892 in his 50s in St. Louis, Mo. I just wanted to know where I would write to get this information. Thank you.

Lucy Brennan

The NYCHS webmaster will present here those e-communications received seeking help with some research project and also present responses those posted inquiries draw.

Quests Hq Guidelines

Those making inquiries are asked to indicate in their e-mails their willingness to have their questions posted here as well as their willingness to have their names and/or e-mail "handles" identified in the postings.

Each respondent is requested to make reference in the responding e-mail to the Quest Id Tag assigned to the inquiry to identify it.

Likewise, the respondents should indicate in their e-mails their willingness to have their names and/or e-mail "handles" identified in the postings.

The e-mail addresses of the inquirers and the respondents will NOT be included in the postings. Quests Hq will forward the full responses, including the respondents' email addresses [unless otherwise instructed], to the inquirers who can choose to initiate direct e-mail communication or not.

All inquiries and responses offered for posting at Correction History Quests Hq should be sent to:
webmaster@ correctionhistory.org

If the number of inquiries and responses warrant, other arrangements for processing them will be explored, including but not limited to establising a monitored newsgroup or Listserv.

Related NYCHS pages

Because some inquiries received by NYCHS involve artifacts -- such as old photos, personal memorabilia, antique equipment -- visitors to Quests Hq should keep in mind three other related pages on this web site:

  • Artifact Recovery Program.
  • Artifacts Photo Gallery.
  • Archival/Research Services.
NY train
robber Oliver
Curtis Perry

Quest Tag: O.C. Perry

I am a Liverpool-based academic and am currently working on a book on NY train robber and prisoner Oliver Curtis Perry. I am, consequently, embarking on research on Auburn, Dannemora and the Matteawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane . . . I would be grateful for any advice you could give me about either studies on NYS correction facilities between 1890 and 1930 or about appropriate organisations or individuals working in this area. . . I am hoping to learn more about the facilities and staff generally also. As far as Auburn goes, for example, I can read Thomas Mott Osborne's account but I cannot find any such source for the State Hospitals which were obviously quite different . . . My thanks.

Dr Tamsin Spargo
School of Media, Critical and Creative Arts
John Moores University
11 April 2001

In cooperation with participqting correctional agencies and organizations, NYCHS has launched an Artifact Recovery Program promoting the help of former correctional agency employees in "liberating" correction artifacts from "imprisonment" in attics, cellars and garages so they can be given places of honor in the agencies' and the society's archival collections for display and study.

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. For more information, visit the Artifact Recovery Program page.
Was ever a
of Sing Sing?

Quest Tag: D.Donovan

Just a quick question. Our family history has it that one of Sing Sing's Governors (or some similar position) was a [relative,] Dennis Donovan. Would you records be able to confirm that? Thanks.

Mick O'Donnell

Other initiatives by the New York Correction History Society are archival and research services at the New York City Department of Correction (NYC DOC) Academy in Middle Village, Queens. Materials being archived and progressively made available for researchers include (but are not limited to) various NYC DOC annual reports, publications documents and photos.

The collection also includes some New York State Department of Correctional Services, New York City Department of Juvenile Justice, the Correction Officers Benevolent Association and the Correction Captains Association newsletters. Books, magazines, newspapers, and clippings related to New York correctional matters also have been gathered. For more information, visit the Archival Services page.

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 the Correction Artifacts Photo Gallery section of the Virtual Museum.

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