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Cool Things - Prison Guard Uniform

Kansas State Penitentiary prison guard uniform

Thomas Boone wore this uniform while working as a prison guard at the state penitentiary.

Boone spent 46 years as a guard in the coal mine, laundry, and tailor shop at the Kansas State Penitentiary.

Convicts work at various industries requiring supervision by guards during their time behind bars. Over the years in the state prison system this has included making twine, bricks, soap, paint, furniture, and license plates.

Sometimes convict labor was directly involved in keeping the prison operational, and sometimes it was only a way to occupy time. The coal mine, opened in 1881, was originally conceived as busy work but evolved into an important service. Coal from the mine powered the prison as well as other state institutions into the 1940s. According to a history published by the Lansing Historical Society, several hundred convicts mined as much as 10,000 bushels of coal each day the mine was in operation.

Kansas State Penitentiary prison guard uniform trousers

Working at the prison from 1892 until his death in 1938, Boone also was superintendent of the laundry and head of the tailor shop. The uniform he wore (pictured on this page) is believed to have been made by prison labor in the shop. Inmates probably sewed the suit sometime in the late 1910s or 1920s. View a close-up of Boone's name on the waistband.

Boone's uniform was transferred to the Kansas Museum of History by the Lansing Historical Museum.

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Entry: Cool Things - Prison Guard Uniform

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: September 2007

Date Modified: December 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.