While examining prisoner data to be uploaded to our digital collection, Montana State Prison Records, I came across the following notation about prisoner John Harrington of Lewistown:
|Detail from John Harrington's Montana State Prison intake sheet.|
The Sedition Act in Montana began in February 1918 and, during that time of world war, the statute criminalized almost anything said or wrote that seemed anti-American. The Montana Sedition Project by the University of Montana details all the accused, totaling 76 men and 3 women arrested in 1918-19. It amazes me to think what kind of seemingly harmless statements could result in being arrested during that time of hyper-patriotism.
|1918 prison intake sheet for John Harrington, convicted of sedition.|
One of the biggest projects the MHS Research Center oversees is digitizing all 10,000 Montana State Prison intake sheets. These records typically contain a wealth of information about each prisoner—crime(s), age, date, address, parents' names, occupation, physical features, and more. Most records contain a photograph as well.
You never know what kind of cases you'll come across while looking through these records.