The following announcement was written by the State of Utah's Division of Archives and Records Service:
Digital images of thousands of applications from Utah prisoners to the Utah Board of Pardons have been posted online by the Utah State Archives and Records Service.
The Board of Pardon’s Prisoner’s Application Case Files, 1892-1949, is the newest addition to the Archives’ Digital Collections. The series include 8,772 case files.
Case files include a formal application for pardon, letters to the governor, petitions and letters of support from the public and public officials connected to the case. During the first 40 years, court transcripts, biographical sketches, prison evaluations, and a wide variety of related documentation such as personal data about the prisoner, criminal activity, family background and evaluation of the prisoner's adjustment to incarceration may be included. Cases illustrate the process of review by the Board of prisoners incarcerated in the Utah prison system in order to determine if they should be released before their regular sentence ended.
“Since these records have long been indexed by name, they often provided a starting point for research into historical crimes or criminals by including important details such as dates and places. By making them available online, we hope to reach more people interested in researching such materials,” said Gina Strack, digital coordinator for the Utah State Archives.
Among the case files is an application for the pardon of Joe Hill (aka Joseph Hillstrom), who was convicted of murder and executed by firing squad at the State Prison on November 19, 1915. The lengthy case file includes 62 pages of documents.
Researchers may access the prisoner’s applications at http://historyresearch.utah.gov/digital/328.htm.
Over 54,000 digital images were scanned from 53 microfilm rolls representing 27 cubic feet of paper records using a Mekel MACH IV microfilm roll scanner. Following digitization, archivists spent another six months preparing the case files for online display.
The Archives plans to add other records in its holdings to its growing digital collections (http://historyresearch.utah.gov/digital/archives.htm). Digitization of other record series on microfilm is currently under way.