The Donald J. Cranston Memorial Collection: Part I --
The CCA Cards

The family of Donald J. Cranston has presented to the New York Correction History Society several boxes of memorabilia from his more than three decades of New York City Correction-related service, including his years of leadership in the Correction Officers Benevolent Association and the Correction Captains Association.
Access a card's reverse side by clicking on its face.
He served as president of both unions, first COBA and later CCA, the only person ever to achieve that distinction. After 27 years with the DOC, Cranston retired in 1991 for health reasons but maintained interest and contact, often working with and on behalf of fellow retirees. He died in 1999 at age 62.

On June 7, 2000, then Correction Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik dedicated the Judicial Center on Rikers Island in honor of Cranston. "Don Cranston quietly achieved what no Correction labor leader had ever done before," by serving as COBA and then CCA president, Commissioner Kerik noted. "Naming this Judicial Center then, which has quietly re-invented the way we can transport inmates through the courts, in honor of him, is only fitting."

For more on Cranston's CCA presidential predecessor, Alfred Mandanici, visit Captains' Quarterly Al Mandanici 50th Anniversary Issue.

The Judicial Center was opened in 1992 as an innovative way for the Department and the courts to expedite inmates' cases and to cut costs associated with inmate transportation and unnecessary delays. Once a week, a New York State Supreme Court Judge travels to Judicial Center on Rikers Island to hear cases, as in any state court. Administrative law judges conduct parole hearings at the site as well. The location is staffed with Correction Officers, attorneys, and personnel from the Office of Court Administration and the state parole board.

Joining the Commissioner Kerik as speakers at the dedication ceremony for the Donald J. Cranston Judicial Center were then Chief of Department William J. Fraser, Correction Officers' Benevolent Association President Norman Seabrook, and Correction Captains Association President Peter Meringolo. All four also are leaders in the New York Correction History Society (NYCHS). The Cranston family's gift of memorabilia -- more than 100 items of various kinds -- constitutes the single largest group of artifacts given to the society by private individuals as distinguished from those artifacts given to NYCHS by an agency or organization.

The CCA cards whose faces are reproduced on this web page are linked to separate individual web pages featuring images of their respective reverse sides. Because the lettering on the reverse sides of the cards is smaller than on the face sides, the reverse side images had to be made larger than those shown on this page so that the names and titles of the union officers could be read.

On the few cards where the Cranston name does not appear on the face sides, it appears on the reverse sides with the other CCA officers. Each linked page featuring a card's reverse side provides a link line back to this page. Yes, we recognize that the 1982 card is missing from this web page, but we expect to find it tucked away somewhere among the many diverse items as we continue to delve into and organize the materials.

Other items in the collection include membership cards from COBA and from various retiree and other Correction-related organizations, his business cards, DOC union election palm cards and fliers, DOC union newsletters and other union-related publications, framed photos, departmental patches, newspaper clippings, union logo pens, handwritten speech notes, framed award citations and proclamations, and plaques of honor.

His son, Correction Captain Mark J. Cranston, made the presentation of the memorabilia to NYCHS on behalf of the family. Other family members include the widow, Regina, and six other children (Maureen, Catherine, Donald Jr., Michael, James, and Christopher) and 11 grandchildren. Christopher Cranston is a Police Officer with NYPD.

If you have artifacts of New York correctional history that you would like NYCHS to preserve and present for the appreciation of current and future generations, please contact us to make arrangements. If you are not ready to part with the artifacts but still would like to share appreciation of them, please send us digital images of them or photos of them that we can scan into digital images. Also send along descriptions explaining the articles.

We will post the images and descriptions in this Correction Artifacts Photo Gallery section.

E-mail us at to begin making arrangements. Please include a term such as "Correction Gallery" or "Correction Artifact" as part of the e-mail subject title. A callback phone number in the body of your message also would be helpful.

By promoting recovery of correction history artifacts, the society seeks to prevent those objects becoming lost or their getting tossed into the trash by persons unaware of their historical value. NYCHS seeks to promote their preservation and presentation so that researchers, scholars and the public may gain better appreciation of the contribution to the New York commonweal by the men and women in correctional services, past and present.
References to Cranston can be found in the initial issues of the Captains' Quarterly, the CCA newsletter begun by his successor, Peter Meringolo

A secure storage area has been made available to the New York Correction History Society for documentary archival and artifact collection purposes at the New York City Correction Academy in Middle Village, Queens.

For the NYCHS Artifact Recovery Program's purposes, an "artifact" is any object that was used or created in past New York correctional service and now could help illustrate the history of that service. The obvious ones include

  • hardware (such as but not limited to cuffs, keys, chains, locks),
  • clothing (such as but not limited to inmate and staff uniforms),
  • documents (such as but not limited to records, ledgers, reports and plans),
  • photographs, illustrations and signs.

More information can be found on the Artifact Recovery Program page.

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