1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

National Death Penalty Archive

Researchers, writers, activists, and records on capital punishment in the United States

The National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA) is a partnership between the University at Albany Libraries and the Capital Punishment Research Initiative (CPRI) at the University's School of Criminal Justice. In 1999, researchers at the School of Criminal Justice formally established the CPRI. Its overarching goals were research and education -- initiate capital punishment research activities, facilitate collaboration among researchers, and make findings and information available to legal and criminal justice policymakers, practitioners, and the public. One of the original goals of the CPRI was to establish and maintain a collection of archival materials documenting the important history of capital punishment, and to provide resources for historical scholarship. This growing collection of archival materials is housed in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, which is located in the University's state of the art Science Library. Open since 1999, the new archival repository includes climate-controlled storage for more than 25,000 cubic feet. The following collections have been acquired for the NDPA through the collaborative efforts of the CPRI and the University Libraries; work is continuing to build this important link to the history of capital punishment in the United States.

The Steven King Ainsworth Papers contain his artwork and writings, including "Heads Up" bulletins written by Ainsworth for prison inmates sentenced to life, life without parole, and their advocates.

.33 cubic ft. (about .33 boxes)

The Bill Babbitt Collection documents nearly ten years of legal efforts to spare Manny Babbitt's life from execution, and two decades of advocacy activities to try to abolish the death penalty.

4.82 cubic ft. (about 4.82 boxes)

The David C. Baldus Papers document the distinguished legal research career of David C. Baldus, which includes the most sophisticated challenges to capital punishment in the United States since the reinstatement of the Death Penalty in 1976. Included is material from the Georgia Charging & Sentencing Study, which was used as evidence in the McCleskey v. Kemp (1987) decision. Similar studies involving capital sentencing in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Military are also detailed, as is Baldus's formal reports to the supreme courts of a number of other states. Also present is material documenting Baldus's long career as the Joseph B. Tye Professor of Law at the University of Iowa Law School. This includes teaching material, presentations, publications, and material documenting faculty service.

192.3 cubic ft. (about 192.3 boxes)

Hugo A. Bedau (Ph.D., Harvard, 1961) is a commentator, scholar, and activist for the abolition of capital punishment. He is a prominent spokesperson in the abolitionist movement and well-known for his scholarship and writing concerning the death penalty and the challenge to separate logical arguments from moral arguments.

36 cubic ft. (about 36 boxes)

The Leigh Bienen Papers include the records of the New Jersey Proportionality Review Project, the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Commission, and the academic research papers of legal scholar Leigh Bienen. The New Jersey records contain material from New Jersey Public Defender Homicide Study directed by Bienen in the mid-1980s. The collection also includes the records from Bienen’s involvement with the New Jersey Proportionality Review Project headed by Special Master David C. Baldus. Also present is material from Leigh Bienen's tenure on the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Commission which resulted in the abolition of the death penalty in that state in 2011. Finally the collection contains Leigh Bienen's scholarly research material during her career teaching at both Princeton University and Northwestern University. Her research focused on proportionality review, the death penalty's monetary costs, and the role of prosecutor discretion.

23.2 cubic ft. (about 23.2 boxes)

For nearly two decades, Abe Bonowitz has worked to educate the public about human rights problems, in particular the death penalty and the need for alternatives to the death penalty. During this time he served in numerous director, consultant, managerial, and activist roles with leading advocacy and death penalty abolitionist organizations.

86.49 cubic ft. (about 86.49 boxes)

The Capital Defender Office (1995-2008) (CDO) was established as part of New York States 1995 death penalty legislation which took effect on September 1, 1995. Under the new law, the State expanded the crime of first degree murder and introduced two new penalties, death and life in prison without possibility of parole, for those convicted. Working from offices in Albany, New York City, and Rochester, the CDO sought to ensure that defendants being tried by the State, who could not afford representation, receive skilled counsel in capital cases. The CDO closed its Rochester office in 2005, and, as no state death penalty cases remain, the Albany and New York City offices in 2008. This collection consists of news clips (filed by subject), subject files, bound records of appeal in the cases of the People v. Cahill, Harris, LaValle, Mateo, McCoy, and Taylor, notebooks with appellate briefs, New York county court papers arranged by county, government studies, reports and debates on capital punishment, annual reports, and a small number of VHS tapes recording court proceedings. There are defendant case files, some with correspondence, court papers, and news clips and others with just news clips.

116.73 cubic ft. (about 116.73 boxes)

The Capital Jury Project (CJP) was started in 1991 under the direction of principal investigation, William J. Bowers. The project was funded by an NSF grant to conduct surveys of juror who participated in capital trials. There are three phases to the project.

81.8 cubic ft. (about 81.8 boxes)

An artificial collection of over 150 clemency petitions filed by inmates from across the United States for the lessening of their death sentence.

6 cubic ft. (about 6 boxes)

The Catholics Against Capital Punishment Records is a small collection that contains several articles, statements, and pamphlets making a case against the death penalty from a Catholic standpoint.

0.80 cubic ft. (about 0.80 boxes)

The Correctional Association of New York Records includes records from the Board of Directors, annual reports, prison visit files, Narcotics Committee files, program and bureau files, project files, subject files, and publications. The only records of the organization available from the nineteenth century are the annual reports, which have been microfilmed and are available in the University Library.

30.97 cubic ft. (about 30.97 boxes)

This collection documents the death penalty abolisionist work of Marie McFadden Deans. A smaller amount of personal materials, such as Deans' poetry and writing, also is included.

5.0 cubic ft. (about 5.0 boxes)

This collection predmoinantly contains the Death Penalty Information Center's audio/video resources on capital punishment.

10.0 cubic ft. (about 10.0 boxes)

The collection contains materials related to capital punishment and criminal justice.

10.0 cubic ft. (about 10.0 boxes)

The M. Watt Espy papers chronicle the extensive research efforts that led to the creation of the Capital Punishment Research Project and the database known as the Espy File. Espy spent three decades gathering and indexing documentation of legal executions in the United States. His papers contain both primary and secondary sources used to catalog thousands of instances of capital punishment in the United States and its territories since the 1600s. The collection includes material from corrections records, newspapers, county histories, legal proceedings, and books. In addition to the records pertaining specifically to the death penalty, there is also a selection of magazines collected by Espy that cover true crime stories as well as life in the American Old West.

88.76 cubic ft. (about 88.76 boxes)

This collection documents the extensive work of death penalty abolitionist Celeste Fitzgerald in the State of New Jersey.

6.0 cubic ft. (about 6.0 boxes)

This collection documents the seventeen-year period (1974-1991) concerning the Florida capital punishment case of Alvin Ford. The collection primarily contains the court records and research material of Ford's attorney, Laurin A. Wollan, Jr., as well as other members of the Ford defense team who began work on the case in 1981. The legal records include official court proceedings from the initial trial in 1974, appeals, attempts at clemency, and several cases by Ford against the Florida Department of Corrections. Other legal records include psychological reports, background reports, biographies of Ford, as well as his prison and medical records.

5.4 cubic ft. (about 5.4 boxes)

This collection includes materials created or collected during Robert (Bob) Gross' work with the organizations National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing as well as the Lighting the Torch of Conscience initiative.

10.85 cubic ft. (about 10.85 boxes)

Death penalty abolitionist who worked with many anti-death penalty organizations, capital defense attorneys, representatives of various communities of faith, newspaper editorial boards, victims' rights groups, members of the families of the condemned, and many death row inmates throughout the country.

11.1 cubic ft. (about 11.1 boxes)

Records of Steven W. Hawkins's tenure as Executive Director of the National Coalition Against the Death Penalty. The papers include extensive minutes of board meetings, speeches, travel arrangements, fundraising and reception notes, and pamphlets and other papers relating to his attendance at various board and committee meetings with related organizations.

3.2 cubic ft. (about 3.2 boxes)

The Herrera Collection contain materials associated with the life and trial of Leonel Herrera, as well as materials included in the book <title><emph render="italic">Last Words from Death Row: The Walls Unit</emph></title>, written by Leonel Herrera’s sister, Norma Herrera Ellis.

1.27 cubic ft. (about 1.27 boxes)

The Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (ICADP) formed in 1976 as the Illinois Coalition Against the Death Penalty by Mary Alice Rankin and other activist groups and organizations to try to prevent passage of capital punishment legislation in Illinois. After the state adopted the death penalty in 1977, ICADP expanded its grassroots legislative, education, and communication activities to try to inform the public about flaws and injustices in the Illinois capital punishment system and promote humane alternatives to the death penalty.

0.6 cubic ft. (about 0.6 boxes)

Convicted of a 2000 murder in Texas and setenced to death, Deon Tumblin committed suicide in his cell in 2004. This collection contains research materials about the Tumblin case, compiled by then graduate student Karli Keator.

1.0 cubic ft. (about 1.0 boxes)

The Maryland Citizens Against State Executions (Maryland or MD CASE) Records contain documents from over 25 groups and 1,300 individuals that united to help successfully end the death penalty in Maryland in 2013 through education, grassroots action, and public demonstration. The collection consists of correspondence, meeting minutes, legislation, lobbying materials, subject files, special event and conference materials, case files and clippings.

4.9 cubic ft. (about 4.9 boxes)

Michael A. Mello (1957-2008) was an internationally recognized authority on the death penalty and capital punishment issues. He was a lawyer, professor, and author. Michael Mello served as counsel or informal advisor to many significant cases, including Joseph Robert Crazy Joe Spaziano, Theodore Kaczynski, Theodore Bundy, Rolando Cruz, Alvin Ford, Stephen Todd Booker, and Robert Straight.

42.2 cubic ft. (about 42.2 boxes)

The Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation Records document the organization’s efforts to abolish the death penalty in all cases. The organization includes family members of both homicide victims and those executed as well as their respective supporter. Included in the collection are handwritten notes, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, brochures, booklets, programs, information packets, photographs, flyers, proofs, drafts, manuscripts, correspondence, memos, transcripts, mailing lists, schedules, meeting agenda, meeting minutes, meeting summaries, by-laws, manuals, checklists, worksheets, evaluation forms, resumes, applications, forms, financial summaries, budgets, contracts, court proceedings, legislative bills, amici curiae, memorabilia, audio/video materials.

13.5 cubic ft. (about 13.5 boxes)

Since 1976 the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has been working to educate the public about the failings and inconsistencies of capital punishment in the United States. Founded after the <emph render="italic">Gregg v. Georgia</emph> Supreme Court decision in 1976, the NCADP has emerged as one of the more influential national anti-death penalty organizations. The collection contains the group’s internal case files, administrative material, publications, petitions, photographic materials, video tapes, and audio cassettes.

27.55 cubic ft. (about 27.55 boxes)

The Death Penalty in New York Testimony Collections gathers the testimonials given by 137 witnesses to several committees of the New York State Assembly having to do with sentences involving the death penalty.

1.6 cubic ft. (about 1.6 boxes)

The collection contains photocopied news clippings related to the death penalty, amassed by the New York State Defenders Association.

12.0 cubic ft. (about 12.0 boxes)

This collection contains the records of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NYADP).

14 cubic ft. (about 14 boxes)

Bill Pelke is a leader in the national death penalty abolition movement. This collection documents Bill Pelke's involvement with Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing, Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation (MVFR), National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP), Amnesty International, and other organizations committed to ending capital punishment in the United States.

18.32 cubic feet

This collection contains the papers of Michael Radelet.

6 cubic ft. (about 6 boxes)

The Henry Schwarzschild Memorial Collection contains papers, journal articles and other written materials about the death penalty. Lansing, Michigan attorney and death penalty opponent Eugene G. Wanger donated this collection in memory of Henry Schwarzschild (1925-1996), longtime director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Capital Punishment Project, and head of the New York office of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty at the time of his death.

2.0 cubic ft. (about 2.0 boxes)

Elisabeth Semel's papers primarily consist of articles published from the 1990s to early 2000s used by Semel in her research and work concerning the death penalty.

8.66 cubic ft. (about 8.66 boxes)

Organized in 1974, the Southern Coalition on Jails and Prisons was formed to promote greater awareness of the problems of prisons and corrections, improve communication between the prison population and the outside world, and advocate for alternatives to the death penalty.

10.5 cubic ft. (about 10.5 boxes)

The Victor Streib Papers contain research materials and legal case files on the death penalty in the United States with a focus on how it has been applied to women and juveniles.

22.8 cubic ft. (about 22.8 boxes)

This collection is predominantly composed of Ernest van den Haag’s publications from 1950-2000, including articles in published form, drafts, and related correspondence.

11.45 cubic ft. (about 11.45 boxes)

This collection contains materials used by Virginians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (VADP) in its efforts to end capital punishment in Virginia.

16.65 cubic ft. (about 16.65 boxes)

The David Von Drehle Papers contain information on the death penalty, primarily in Florida. Von Drehle compiled the materials while researching his 1995 book <emph render="italic">Among the Lowest of the Dead: Inside Death Row</emph>.

7.5 cubic ft. (about 7.5 boxes)

Over the course of 50 years, Eugene G. Wanger created or collected the materials about capital punishment that comprise the Eugene G. Wanger and Marilyn M. Wanger Death Penalty Collection. The collection includes a wide range of materials on the death penalty documenting its history, efforts to abolish or reinstate the practice, its psychological impact, compatibility on religious, moral or ethical grounds, and its operation.

147.2 cubic ft. (about 147.2 boxes)

If you have knowledge of specific erroneous information within any collection in the National Death Penalty Archive, notify the archivists at the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives by writing to:

M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives
University at Albany, Science Library 350
1400 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12222

In the correspondence, indicate the specific instance of error and submit appropriate supporting documentary evidence. Claims without supporting documentation will not be considered. For the online correspondence, you may copy and paste the supporting documentary evidence into the online form or indicate that it will be sent as a follow-up e-mail.

Archivists will create a file of documented and validated errors for future researchers to consult.