The Industrial Home for Women at Muncy, Pennsylvania

Muncy_Kitchen
Inmates training in the kitchen at Muncy. Lycoming College.

In 1913, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed an act establishing the Industrial Home for Women at Muncy, about 20 miles east of Williamsport, PA. The first woman was admitted in 1920 and Muncy’s population grew steadily in the following years. Many new buildings were built in the 1930s, some of which are still in use today. Originally, the institution was built to house first-time female offenders between the ages of 16 and 30, but the maximum age limit was removed when Muncy was transferred from the Department of Welfare to the Department of Justice (now Corrections) in 1953.

Muncy Cottage
Pennsylvania State Archives, RG 9.1

By 1955, 11 cottages were built on the grounds. According to one report,

“The cottages are homelike in atmosphere with pianos, radios, and record players in the living rooms where each evening, except Sunday, the girls may congregate, play the piano, listen to the radio, sing, play cards, crochet, embroider, and on Saturday nights dance until 8:00 o’clock…the beautiful campus and well-kept, mountain stone buildings compare most favorably with those of the best of our modern American colleges. It is hard to believe that such beauty and freedom could ever be associated with a penal institution.” At Muncy, “each girl is encouraged to use nail polish, rouge, and lipstick, and to arrange her hair attractively. Every individual girl is issued three print dresses which she wears to religious services and movies, as well as at all other appropriate times.”

Inmates were kept busy working on Muncy’s 828-acre farm and in the power sewing shop throughout the year. Inmates were paid two cents an hour for their work. In the 1950s, Muncy also offered vocational and business classes in the winter months to help women find employment after they were paroled. If an inmate was paroled, she was given ten dollars, a suitcase with several outfits, a “very stylish hair-do,” and a ride to the train or bus station.

Muncy Group
Pennsylvania State Archives, RG 9.1

Muncy still only holds female inmates, and is known today as SCI Muncy. The Pennsylvania State Archives has a variety of documents, photographs, and other interesting stuff related to the facility. To learn more about Muncy’s long history and the women who were detained there, see the Department of Correction’s history of Muncy, or this Muncy scrapbook that’s been digitized by Lycoming College Archives. Lots of interesting stories here!

6 thoughts on “The Industrial Home for Women at Muncy, Pennsylvania

Add yours

  1. My Mother, Ruth Harriet Hall was at Muncy starting Nov. 22, 1954. My siblings and I were placed in Foster care, my brother was sent to Hershey Boys school until he was 18. I have received documentation from Crawford county courts about my Mother’s arrest. And the fact that she was sentenced to Muncy. It does not state how long she was incarcerated or her release date. Could you please see if you could find this information for me and my siblings. Our Mother passed in Sept. 1973.
    I appreciate any help you can give me. Thank you.

    Like

      1. Hi Christine,

        I’m not sure if my comment was posted (I’m not seeing it) but I really wanted to make sure I could get in touch with you!

        I’ve done research at SCI Muncy on the institution’s life as a reformatory. My research spanned 1913-1954, and I have a spreadsheet containing the names of over 3000 women sent their during that time. I’d be more than happy to check my records and see if I can find your mother’s name in them!

        Please feel free to email me at reilly.groder@gmail.com. I’m really looking forward to hearing from you!

        Reilly

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing this. The PA State Archives (where I work) has some records from Muncy around the 1940s but not much. But if you get in touch with our reference department they might be able to find some information on Helen (if you’re curious).

      Like

Leave a Reply to Helen Burley Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: