The One Who Got Away

Written on: April 29, 2011 | 3 Comments

This week I was in Kansas City visiting two of our three facilities in the area. The limestone caves at Lenexa hold both temporary and permanent records of Federal agencies in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska including the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, the growing collection of records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs is housed there. An amazingly creative use of naturally climate controlled space to protect the Nation’s history.

Among the many archival records at the Central Plains Region facility in downtown Kansas City are the inmate case files of the United States Penitentiary—Leavenworth. 68,937 files covering July 1895 when the prison opened through 1952 are now open for research and document some of the most notorious federal prisoners in history. The files include Robert Stroud–aka the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” George “Machine Gun” Kelly, boxer Jack Johnson, labor leader “Big Bill” Haywood, gambler Nicky Aronstein, and polar explorer Dr. Frederick Cook. And some not so notorious prisoners including Lizzie Cardish, a 15 year old convicted of arson in Wisconsin; Lothar Witzke a German spy convicted of the Black Tom Island explosion of 1916 in New York Harbor which damaged the Statue of Liberty; and Samuel Caldwell, who we believe was the first Leavenworth prisoner to be convicted of violating the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937!

Lizzie Cardish, fifteen years old: convicted of arson. (ARC ID 292115)

Lizzie Cardish, fifteen years old: convicted of arson. (ARC ID 292115)

William Haywood; convicted of obstruction of military service and sedition (ARC ID 292118)

William Haywood; convicted of obstruction of military service and sedition (ARC ID 292118)


The clever staff at Central Plains also shared with me the inmate case file of the one who got away. Check it out!

Additional Resources:

3 Responses to “The One Who Got Away”

  1. Maarja Krusten said:

    Great inmate case file, v. LOL. Good metamessage; good to see the employees do that. Blogged about it just now at http://nixonara.wordpress.com/2011/05/15/no-more-guessing-thanks-big-dude/ Thumbs up!


    (May 15, 2011 at 9:45 pm)

  2. David Ferriero said:

    Thanks, Maarja. Cool post!


    (May 16, 2011 at 4:27 pm)

  3. Maarja Krusten said:

    Oh, man, 2 cool! Glad you liked it (Big Dude, u r going to make me go all Sally Field 1985 Oscars). Yeah, had to get an 80s reference in there. I’ll comment on your excellent new transformation post later 2day, thinking it over.


    (May 16, 2011 at 6:40 pm)