@Article{ butler1989,
	author = {Anne M. Butler},
	title = {Still in Chains: Black Women in Western Prisons, 1865-1910},
	journal = {Western Historical Quarterly},
	volume = 20,
	number = 1,
	month = {February},
	pages = {18--35},
	year = 1989,


Mentions an 1867 letter by William Sinclair, a Freedmen’s Bureau inspector, who was trying to seek “clemency for former slaves detained at the Huntsville penitentiary. Among the 220 blacks that Sinclar hoped to assist, he listed fourteen women, all of whom had been slaves. In a passionate letter to his superiors, Sinclair called the convicts ‘the innocent and unfortunate victims of their [former owners’] wrath and disappointment’” (26).1 But Sinclair was apparently unsuccessful at that time, and although an 1868 Reconstruction committee recommended clemency for many of the prisoners in the penitentiary, by 1874, allies of freedpeople like Sinclair were gone, which left convicts more at the mercy of men like A. J. Ward.

Details reports of sexual abuse of black women in the Huntsville prison, including one women who gave birth to a child fathered by the prison doctor, a white convict.

  1. Citation is from February 26, 1867, letter in the Records of BRFAL, RG 105, Texas, Assistant Commissioner, Letters Received Register, vol. 1, 1866-1867, Box 4, N-S.