[Kids dance aboard DOC steamer.]

Children dance, a band plays, flags flap in the breeze, as the steamer Correction plows New York waters on a WWI era excursion.

Commissioner Hamilton & WWI Era Excursions of the Steamboat Correction

The Department of Correction's 1922 annual report included a review by James A. Hamilton of his four years as Correction Commissioner. Among the items prominently mentioned were excursions by the Department steamboat Correction. Back then, DOC's fleet consisted of four steamers (Correction, Hart's Island, Riker's Island, and James A. Hamilton) and two launches (Patrick A. Whitney and Burdette G. Lewis).

In the World War I era, the public and private sectors sought to show support for U.S. troops. The Correction excursions reflected that sentiment as well as related concerns such as the care of children by mothers whose men were in military service or who faced other hardships.

The Correction steamer photos below come from the 1920 annual report but show scenes of the excursions recounted again by Commissioner Hamilton in his 1922 report. The exact excerpts reproduced here come from Pages 45 through 49 of that 1922 report and adhere to the phrasings and spellings then in use:

[1922 annual report]

In his last annual report as Correction Commissioner, submitted Dec. 31, 1922, James A. Hamilton reviewed accomplishments achieved during his four-year administration.


Advances in Institutional Management.

As Regards Personnel:

As Regards Prisoners:

Emphasized need for proper classification, study and individual treatment of prisoners.  To further this aim, created a bureau of medicine and surgery, including a division of psychiatry and a bureau of education.  If these two bureaus function well this Department will take its rightful position as the leading prison body of the country.  It is evident that sound progressive correctional policies must be shaped by the teachings of medical science and vocational training.  Accordingly, we hope that our successors will develop and strengthen the work of these two bureaus, organized in our Administration.

Installed modern and sanitary equipment in inmates' mess hall.

Initiated system of changing menus every quarter.  Food supplied is of a higher standard.

Prisoners have better foot-wear.  Inmate hospital patients have proper apparel (pajamas or night-gowns, bath robes, slippers, handkerchiefs, toothbrushes, etc.); female inmates have sweaters in place of old and obsolete capes, an additional dress for Sunday wear, and handkerchiefs; male inmates working out-doors have overcoats.  Reformatory inmates have an additional suit for Sunday wear.  Discharged Reformatory boys are completely outfitted and given a small sum of money.  They present a neat appearance when applying for work.

Productive prison labor emphasized.  With soldier and civilian working without stint, to bring success in the war, it seemed fitting that prisoners should do their share, and a full eight-hour work-day was instituted for them.  In the late fall, and during winter months, prisoners worked seven hours a day.

[Officials wait on soldiers.]

Officials wait on wounded soldiers on board Correction.

Other Civic Activities of the Administration.

The Welcome Home Trips, 1918 and 1919.
Requisition was made of the Correction to carry City officials, honored guests and relatives and friends of soldiers expected on incoming ships down to Quarantine, or thereabouts. The Correction served in this capacity from December, 1918, through all of 1919, making four or five trips a day to the ships, and employed thereat from 7 A. M. to 7 or 8 P. M. The Correction carried 4,500 passengers a day for 336 days, or, 1,512,000 persons in all, with perfect order and passenger safety.

Excursions for Wounded Officers and Soldiers of Fox Hills, Staten Island.

One summer day the Correction had 300 wounded officers and soldiers of the Fox Hills Hospital as passengers on an all-day trip, under the auspices of the Mayor's Committee of Women.  Mayor Hylan, Miss Emma Frohman of Fox Hills Hospital, Commissioner Whalen of the Department of Plant and Structures, and the Commissioner of Correction received the soldier guests.  The "boys" were out from eleven until seven and sailed to West Point.  Luncheon was served when the guests arrived on board and the evening meal at half-past four.

[Women's Committee trip.]

"All day water trip for mothers and children" reads the banner of the "Mayor's Committee of Women" displayed on the side of the steamer Correction

Outings for Mothers and Children.

Between June and September the Steamboat Correction carried 20,607 women and children on forty excursion trips, sponsored by the Mayor's Committee of Women (Mrs.  William Randolph Hearst, Chairman, and Mrs. Nelson Herrick Henry, Secretary).  The all-day water trips were planned to give a happy day to mothers and children from the congested districts of the City, On these excursions were tired and anemic mothers, cardiac, crippled, and kindergarten children.

Doctor Hitchcock and six nurses of the Bureau of Hygiene, of the Health Department accompanied, each excursion and examined each mother  and child.  Anaemic children and mothers and convalescent mothers were given successive trips.

The boat carried its full quota only, 800 persons.  There was no overloading, and wire netting was placed outside the rails of the steamer as an effective safeguard for the children.  Strict discipline prevailed and fire and boat drills were in order.  Usually two firemen and two policemen were on board and as a result of fine management and efficient care no one was hurt.

[Bus children for excursion.]

Children are assisted off a bus for escort to their excursion aboard the steamer Correction

The Parks and Playgrounds Association supplied play leaders to interest the children and relieve the mothers of as much care as possible.  The Street Cleaning Department provided music, sending on each trip a: band of not less than twelve, and often sixty pieces.  Volunteer workers acted as hostesses, and served milk and ice cream.  The Milk Committee, made up of five members of the Mayor's Committee of Women, supplied plenty of milk, and generous subscribers furnished plenty of ice cream cones.

The ordinary routine of the Department was affected by withdrawal of Correction from its daily routine of service, and this in turn, brought about greater work throughout the entire Department.  Six days' work was done in three.  Freight had to be handled and delivered, storekeepers had to adjust themselves to the temporary change and keep their institutions supplied, and prisoners had to be transferred just the same.  Wardens had to manage, too, to swing their work to three days.

However, all employees affected by the changes mentioned and the consequent demands for efficient and willing adjustment stood well in the emergency to do their part to make these trips a success.

Go to: || Commissioner Hamilton: 1918-1922 || Correction Commissioners List
|| Mayor Climbs Into DOC Nautical History ||

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