A Lens on Capital Punishment

National Death Penalty Archive

ALBANY, N.Y. — This spring, the University at Albany’s School of Criminal Justice launched a new National Death Penalty Archive (NDPA) Video Series. Hosted by James Acker, the co-founder of NDPA and distinguished teaching professor emeritus, the video series features a background history and tour of the National Death Penalty Archive, as well as interviews with death penalty experts from across the country.

In 1999, UAlbany’s School of Criminal Justice and the University Libraries established the National Death Penalty Archive — a national repository of primary sources and archival material devoted solely to documenting the history of capital punishment in the United States. 

“This unique collection of materials is an unrivaled source for scholars, students, and the public interested in the legal, political, and social history of the death penalty,” said Brian Keough, co-director of the National Death Penalty Archive.

The National Death Penalty Archive has over 40 archival collections totaling over 500 cubic feet of record boxes housed in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives in the University's Science Library. The NDPA team continually seeks to obtain new collections of historical records from individuals and organizations with a significant influence in political and academic discourse. 

During the launch on March 31st, archivist Jodi Boyle presented a selection of sources found in the archive, including a 1701 essay on hanging — the oldest item in the archive — in addition to case files on capital punishment, wrongfully convicted cases, petitions, books, index cards of executions, as well as digitized records. 

Lastly, Dr. Acker presented excerpts from the interviews he conducted with eight prominent experts that work with death penalty issues:

Catherine Grosso, Professor, Michigan State College of Law
Daniel Kobil, Professor, Capital University Law School
Michael Meltsner, Professor, Northeastern University Law School
Scott Phillips, Professor, University of Denver, Sociology
Michael Radelet, Professor, University of Colorado, Sociology
Diane Rust-Tierney, Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Marla Sandys, Associate Professor, Indiana University, Criminal Justice, Capital Jury Project
Eugene “Gil” Wanger, Attorney

The full National Death Penalty Archive Video Series is available here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLK7BBm0d6z2C5lxawF-E9_t9jZk-IMFeb

If you have questions about the National Death Penalty Archive or if you would like to contribute materials to it, contact Brian Keough ([email protected]) or Jim Acker ([email protected]). Questions about the videos or future events should be directed to Diana Mancini ([email protected]).


National Death Penalty Archive Video Series Launch