Wednesday, August 26, 2009


This is a picture of a chain gang from Greene Country Georgia in 1941. Interesting note is that the prisoners in the picture are attending the funeral of the Warden, who was killed the previous day in a car accident. I find it interesting that the me have a look of somber respect, not celebration over the event.


  1. Better the devil you know....


  2. What would be really astounding is a photo of chained convicts looking pleased at a warden's funeral. What they said in private might be a different matter. Or else, the warden was fair under the circumstances and they were sorry. (We have to look at pictures in the context of their time, not our time.) Or they were simply worried "Uh oh, What's next?"

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  5. They may have been convicts but I'm pretty sure they weren't sadistic psychopaths. Who rejoices at a funeral? Further, 1941 Georgia Prison Bureau probably was pretty good at making sure the black prisoners "knew their place." I'm kind of disappointed about your comment, PJM.

  6. the phrase "sadistic psychopaths" is a bit over the top. I think there are plenty people who rejoice at funerals. There is many a family with private angers and strains. You just don't see it on their faces. But that's rather beside the point of the photo. I cannot read any specific emotion in the photo except respect for the ceremony which is normal at any time.

  7. Back in 1941 a black inmate did not show disrespect toward a white warden.

    And where are the white inmates?

  8. From the 1930s until the 1960s federal and many state prisons were segregated, so that should answer all the questions about where were the white prisoners.
    I find it interesting that people assume that all white wardens in the south were evil and that it would not be possible for one to be respected by any black prisoner. It seems "we have a failure to communicate" here.

  9. norkio kevlang:

    i agree. respect is respect.

    for example, i personally couldn't stand ted kennedy, he represented every political ideology i despise, and i think he should have gone to jail for letting mary jo kopechne drown in that car

    but, i'm still sorry he passed away and i'm NOT glad he had brain cancer.

  10. Brother Dave,
    At no time, now or in the past, would a convict of any color show disrespect to a guard without serious consequences.
    Totally agree. There is too much automatic assumption that prison guards and wardens of the south were uniformly evil. Although such behavior may have easier to get away with in the South, there are guards and wardens who abuse their authority everywhere - that's because they are bad people.
    PS: I am not a southerner.

  11. So where is the photo of the segregated white chain gang from back in 1941?

  12. I am just wondering - the fellow in the front of the photo - the man with suspenders - seems to bear a strong resemblence to the man dancing in a previous picture. The lighting in the "dancing" shot looked odd to me. The light was coming from the left, but the picture was taken from the right, so the shadows didn't fall where they would have if a flash camera had been used. Is it possible these are stills from some old movie?

  13. PJM
    You better post a white chain gang picture.

    "Integrated" chain gang.

  14. David Marshall Williams, inventor of floating chamber and short stroke piston for firearms, served time on a work farm and chain gang during his time at the Caledonia Prison Farm, before "graduating" to the machine shop.

    Robert E Burns ("I am a Fugitive from a Goergia Chain Gang") served on a chain gang in 20's-30's

    At 16, Robert Mitchum was arrested for vagrancy and spent six days on chain gang before escaping.
    Were they on all white gangs? I Don't know.