Guide to Federal Records

Records of the Office of the Pardon Attorney


(Record Group 204)
1846-1977 (BULK 1846-1965)

Overview of Records Locations

Table of Contents

  • 204.1 Administrative History
  • 204.2 Records of the Office of the Pardon Attorney and its Predecessors 1846-1977 (bulk 1846-1965)

204.1 Administrative History

Established: In the Department of Justice, by informal redesignation of the Office of the Attorney in Charge of Pardons, 1894.

Predecessor Agencies:

  • Secretary of State (1789-1853)
  • Attorney General (1789-1865)
  • Office of the Clerk of Pardons, Attorney General's Office (1865- 70)

In the Department of Justice:

  • Office of the Clerk of Pardons (1870-91)
  • Office of the Attorney in Charge of Pardons (1891-94)

Functions: Receives requests for Executive clemency in nonmilitary cases and recommends action thereon.

Finding Aids: Gaiselle Kerner, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Office of the Pardon Attorney, PI 87 (1955).

Related Records:General Records of the Department of Justice, RG 60.

Top of Page

204.2 Records of the Office of the Pardon Attorney and its Predecessors
1846-1977 (bulk 1846-1965)

History: Responsibility for exercising the pardon power vested in the President by Article II, section 2, of the Constitution was shared by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, 1789- 1853. The Attorney General had administrative responsibility for pardon application review, 1853-70, although the Department of State continued to issue pardon warrants until a Presidential order of June 6, 1893, transferred this function to the Department of Justice. Pardon responsibilities were delegated to the Office of the Clerk of Pardons, established in the Office of the Attorney General by an act of March 3, 1865 (13 Stat. 516). The Office of the Clerk of Pardons became a component of the newly created Department of Justice, pursuant to its enabling act, June 22, 1870 (16 Stat. 162). It was superseded by the Office of the Attorney in Charge of Pardons, established in the Department of Justice by an act of March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. 946), and redesignated Office of the Pardon Attorney, 1894. SEE 204.1.

Textual Records: Pardon case files, 1853-1963 (954 ft.), including enclosures, 1892-1935. Index to pardon cases, 1853-89. Case files and general records of political prisoners, ca. 1918- 33. Utah amnesty case files, docket books, and related materials, 1882-92. Abstracts of State Department pardon cases (1793-1853), compiled 1894-97. Docket books of pardon cases, 1853-1958, with indexes, 1853-89, 1902-21. Record books of pardon cases, 1856-57, 1907-16, with indexes, 1907-14. Record book of pardons denied, 1893-1918. Lists of pardon cases, 1861-65. Requisitions for pardon warrants, 1861-81, with indexes. Applications for Executive clemency, 1945-55, with index, 1943-77. Letters of advice, 1956-65. Miscellaneous letters sent and requisitions for pardon warrants, 1871-93. Pardon warrants issued, 1893-1936. Letters sent, 1868- 1934. Correspondence, 1944-48. Records concerning pardons for offenses against military government, 1846-47, 1898-1901. Records relating to economy and efficiency in the pardon attorney's office, October-November 1910. Memorandums, 1918-30. Receipts for parole case records, 1926-28.

Finding Aids: The Office of the Pardon Attorney has retained custody of indexes to some records in the National Archives.

Related Records: Records concerning the supervision of Utah elections by the Utah Commission (1882-96) in RG 48, Records of the Office of the Secretary of the Interior. Pardon files of the Department of State, 1789-1893, in RG 59, General Records of the Department of State. Applications for amnesty, Civil War and later, in RG 94, Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917. Registers of pardons issued in RG 130, Records of the White House Office.

Subject Access Terms: Birdman of Alcatraz (Robert Stroud); Rosenberg, Ethel and Julius; Stroud, Robert (Birdman of Alcatraz).


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


Top of Page

Guide to Federal Records >

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

.