[Big House]
[NYCHS Shield]
[Auburn Title]

[brant kehn]


May 29, 2003,

[Superintendent Walker]
The New York Correction History Society (NYCHS) web site is pleased to share with its viewers some advance word and images of The Big House: Auburn, The History Channel (THC) documentary premiering on Thursday, May 29th, 2003, at 11 P.M. EST. [All rights to the images on this web that were taken from the documentary are retained by and reserved to THC.]

The week-long on-site filming took place more than a year ago when Hans J. Walker (above right), since retired, was Auburn superintendent. A member of his staff, Michael Pettigrass (above left), whose duties include historical services for the facility, functioned as historical consultant for the production. Both appear in on-camera interviews.

[C.O. Rourke
[Prof. Garvey]
[Dep. Burns]

Other "taking heads" include Captain John R. Rourke (above left), Cornell University Law Professor Stephen P. Garvey (above center) and Deputy Superintendent for Security John J. Burns (above right). Like Walker and Pettigrass, each appears a few times in the film discussing various aspects of prison life and history at Auburn.

[Sgt. Davidowsky
[Ret. C.O. Butera]
[C.O. Grancola]

Making brief single appearances in the documentary are Sgt. John Davidowsky (above left), retired Correctional Officer Robert Butera (above center) and Correctional Officer Mark Giancola (above right.)

[3 inmates]

Prisoner perspectives were provided by interviewed inmates who agreed to speak on camera (left).

Produced for THC by Greystone Communications, with narration voiced by Paul Sorvino, it covers the 186-year history of the prison that was adopted and adapted as the model for penitentiaries across the country and around the world.
Some Big House:

To see a scene image,
click its underlined title.

With Netscape, to see another scene, just click on that one's underlined title. But with Internet Explorer, first close the open image window before opening another one.

To close an open image window, click on its top right X-box.

Auburn Correctional Facility. Entrance wall displays name.

Auburn view from prison. The outside seen from inside.

Wall of separation. Big barrier between outside & inside.

No greenery in this yard. Prison yard with piled snow.

Inmate 'recreate' in yard. Prisoners gather in yard area.

Officers pat down an inmate. A weapons check.

Graceful staircase. Functional yet attractive interior.

Cell block. Doors open, close together or separately.

Lock levers. Still going strong.

Body chains. Used in inmate transport.

Car plates. All made by Auburn inmates.

Riot vestige. A 1970 riot-scarred door.

Sunset on Owasco. River's flow once powered the chair.

Animation. 646 Kb. 21 B&W historical images. Endless loop. Close window to exit.

Topics touched upon include the silence system, floggings, lockstep, striped uniforms, hard labor, industrial shops, Thomas Mott Osborne and his reforms, limited inmate government, the riots, the electric chair, various electrocutions, license plate manufacture, and current inmate routine at Auburn.

Among those THC acknowledges in the closing credits are:

  • Retired Deputy Superintendent John N. Miskell's whose monographs on Auburn history have been transcribed into more than three dozen web pages in this site's Auburn&Osborne section.

  • Cayuga Museum, whose current Auburn prison exhibit Both Sides of the Wall is the subject of a 9-page presentation in this site's Auburn&Osborne section.

  • John Burge, the current Auburn superintendent, also helpful during a recent NYCHS visit in connection with the Cayuga Museum exhibit about the prison.

  • Linda Foglia of NYS DOCS public information office, also helpful to NYCHS on various history-related projects.

  • The Ossining Historical Society, also helpful to NYCHS on Sing Sing-related history projects.
[Credits 2]

Although NYCHS e-mailed and faxed advance notices of the documentary's premiere, some members may miss it for various reasons: schedule conflicts, not having cable TV, the unavailability of THC on their TV cable service. So NYCHS has asked THC:

  1. Will the documentary be broadcast again?
  2. Will it be available on video tape?
We checked and found the answer is affirmative on both counts.

The History Channel's web site at http://www.thehistorychannel.com provides a means of access to the daily, weekly and monthly program schedules. Clicking the "On TV" button takes the visitor to the program schedule search page. Inputting Prisons as the search word will produce a list of dates and times for upcoming broadcasts of that Big House documentary, among other prison-related shows.

The URL for directly accessing the program schedule search page is http://www.historychannel.com/
[Credits 1]

THC's web site at http://www.thehistorychannel.com also provides a means of access to a page for purchasing videos of documentaries aired on The History Channel as well as the Biography and A&E (Arts and Entertainment) channels. Clicking the "Store" button takes the visitor to the video search page. Inputting The Big House as the search phrase will bring up a result page listing that The Big House documentary videos.

Currently the featured four-box set includes documentaries on Alcatraz, Sing Sing, Eastern State Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Atlanta Federal, San Quentin, Folsom, Alderson Federal Women's Penitentiary, Attica, McNeil Island, Angola and East Jersey State. Eventually Auburn will be available too. The URL for directly accessing the video search page is http://store.historychannel.com/

Webmaster note: The above is provided as an informational service to New York Correction History Society members and web page visitors. As a nonprofit historical society, NYCHS has no financial interest in the sale of video tapes. Those with cable TV services that include The History Channel and with video recorders may find the monthly schedule of broadcasts useful if they wish to tape it themselves at home.

To The Citizen front page story on THC Auburn Prison premiere
To 8-web page transcription of brochure for Cayuga Museum's current Auburn prison exhibit.
To Auburn&Osborne menu page.
To Cayuga Museum web page.
To NYCHS role in History Channel's Modern Marvels prisons documentary.
To John N. Miskell's
'Executions in
Auburn Prison:
To John N. Miskell's
'Why Auburn?
Prison & Community
To John N. Miskell's
'Offering Hope:
Auburn Seminary,
Prison Connection'
To John N. Miskell's
Medal of Honor
Rite at Auburn
Inmate Grave