About the Objects
The 1971 uprising at Attica Correctional Facility in Western New York was one of the most significant events in the history of the American corrections system. Scholars, policymakers, and activists still look to the lessons of Attica for guidance in responding to similar situations and addressing conditions in American prisons, generally. Most of the records in the State Archives stem from investigations and legal proceedings undertaken in response to the uprising. Taken together, they shed great light on the conditions protested by the inmates, the state’s actions in retaking control of the facility, the legal cases that ensued in the aftermath of the uprising, and the uprising’s effect on the parties involved and their survivors.
The State Archives began receiving records directly related to the uprising from state agencies in 1990, a process that continues to this day. Many records transferred in their original analog format, such as video recordings from the Governor’s office and audiotapes of Special Commission on Attica hearings, have recently been digitized to render them more accessible. Along with these, another recent and significant addition to the Digital Collections is a series of legal documents, hand selected and digitized by the State Attorney General’s Office. These relate primarily to class action proceedings initiated by former Attica inmates and their survivors against state officials implicated in the armed retaking of the facility and reassertion of control. It is important to note that due to the sheer volume of material and legal restrictions on public access to certain documents, only selected records relating to the uprising are included in the Digital Collections.