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Anna Moskowitz Kross papers, 1905-1974
8 boxes (3 linear ft.)
Collection number: MS 87

Lawyer, judge, Commissioner, New York City Department of Corrections, and social reformer. The bulk of the collection covers Kross's career as the Commissioner of Correction. Writings, speeches, and taped interviews reflect Kross's efforts to institute major reforms focusing on education and social rehabilitation for women prisoners. Correspondents include Constance Baker Motley and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The collection is open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of unpublished works in this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Sophia Smith Collection
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Anna Moscowitz was born in Nesheves Russia, July 17, 1891, daughter of Mayer and Esther (Drazen) Moscowitz. When Anna was two years old, the family immigrated to the United States to avoid religious persecution. They were desperately poor. Anna studied at Columbia University in 1907, worked in a factory, taught English to foreigners, and at night studied law on a scholarship. She received an L.L.B in 1910 and an L.L.M. from New York University in 1911 and was admitted to the New York Bar in 1912. While still in law school she became interested in the fate of prisoners in the court system. In 1917 she married Dr. Isodor Kross, a prominent New York surgeon. They had three children.

In 1918, after several years of private practice, Kross accepted an appointment in the office of the Corporation Council for New York City with an assignment to the Family Court. She remained there until 1923 when she returned to private practice specializing in labor relations. In 1933, Mayor John P. O'Brien appointed Kross to the bench as a Magistrate. She was the first woman judge in the city magistrates court. She was reappointed in 1940 and again in 1950.

In 1946 Kross organized and became the presiding Magistrate of the Home Term Court of the Borough of Manhattan, an experimental social court dealing with the problems of disturbed families. In 1951 the Home Term Court became citywide. In 1954 Kross was appointed Commissioner of Correction of New York City. During her tenure she received a great deal of publicity for her outspoken criticism of government policies that discriminated against the poor. She served with the Correction Department until her retirement in 1966 at the age of 75.

Kross advocated for the implementation of psychological and psychiatric social work in the administration of criminal justice and was instrumental in getting trained psychiatrists, vocational guidance workers, religious agencies, and trained medical personnel involved. She successfully fought against the public spectacle of trials of young girls on morals and vice charges, particularly through the establishment of the Wayward Minors Court (now Girls' Term Court) designed exclusively to deal with the problems of adolescent female delinquency. She insisted that not only prostitutes, but also their clients be booked. Kross gained wide recognition for her work on behalf of youth, advocating a more judicious attitude toward social problems. This was reflected in her insistence that prison was inappropriate for the indigent, mentally ill, prostitutes, or those addicted to drugs or alcohol. She also advocated against the inequities of the bail system

Kross received numerous citations, awards, and honorary degrees and belonged to numerous organizations, including American and international law associations, groups concerned with law enforcement and correction, and Jewish organizations. She died August 27, 1979 at the age of 88.

Scope and contents of the collection

The Anna Moscowitz Kross Papers consist of three linear feet of correspondence, speeches, memorabilia, reports, journal and newspaper articles, photographs, and audiotapes. They relate exclusively to her professional and public life dating from 1905-1974. The bulk of the collection dates from 1954 to the 1960s and covers primarily Kross's career as New York City Commissioner of Correction. It includes writings, speeches, and taped interviews on prison reform, criminal justice, and rehabilitation. There is a substantial amount of material on the New York House of Detention for Women and Kross's efforts to institute major reforms focusing on education and social rehabilitation for women prisoners. There is some material on juvenile offenders as well. Correspondents include Constance Baker Motley and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Organization of the collection

This collection is organized into five series:

  • I. Biographical Material
  • II. Writings and Speeches
  • III. Correspondence
  • IV. Professional Activities
  • V. Photographs and Audiovisual Materials

Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open to research according to the regulations of the Sophia Smith Collection without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

The copyright owner of unpublished works in this collection is unknown. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use" must also be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection as owners of the physical property.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Anna Moscowitz Kross Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, Northampton, MA

History of the Collection

Anna Moscowitz Kross donated her papers between 1975 and 1977.

Processing Information

Processed by Susan Boone, 2000.

Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Special Collections
Young Library
4 Tyler Drive
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Series Descriptions
3 linear inches.

This series contains miscellaneous biographical material and publicity about Kross. It also includes information about citations and honors awarded to her. Miscellaneous biographical material and memorabilia contains biographical sketches, two notes from a classmate and teacher at Public School #7 (1905) which seem to be from a childhood autograph book, and a thank you letter from her grandson (1976).

2 linear inches.

This series contains articles and speeches by Kross. Articles include a series she wrote for the Brooklyn Law Review (1937-38) on the Magistrates Courts of the City of New York. Columns she wrote for the Department of Correction newsletters can be found in SERIES III. The speeches in this series are supplemented by those on audiotapes in SERIES V.



7.5 linear inches.

Correspondence is divided into two sections: the first arranged by person the second by subject. Except for the one letter from her grandson in SERIES I, these papers contain no family correspondence. Although some letters are personal in nature, this series consists solely of office correspondence. The correspondents are arranged alphabetically and replies are attached. Also included are attachments and occasional letters between others that were sent to Kross. Of particular interest in the first section is a letter from Anna Moscowitz written in 1917 to the Mayor of New York, John Mitchell, about prostitution, and a copy of a letter from Pope John XXIII. Also of interest are letters from Eleanor Roosevelt (1945-64), which reflect a personal relationship between the two women. These include letters relating to her visit and donations to the Women's House of Detention, her support for Kross's work, and letters from the Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial Foundation and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute for Cancer Research. There are several letters from Constance Baker Motley (1964-65). Although unsubstantial in content, they indicate a personal, cordial relationship. The second section consists of groups of correspondence related to specific subjects: a trip to Brazil (1959), receptions in honor of Grace Cox (1968) and Adrian Burke (1954-55), and political campaigns of Leonard N. Cohen for Civil Court Judge (1967) and Eleanor Clark French for U.S. Congress (1964-65).

10 linear inches.

The bulk of this series consists of material related to Kross's tenure as Commissioner of Correction for the City of New York. It also includes information about other miscellaneous professional activities and several subject files. Department of Correction material consists of a small amount of correspondence (1960-61); articles and reports on projects and conferences initiated and undertaken by Kross while she was Commissioner (1965); publications of the Department including the newsletter, Correction Highlights and Correction Sidelights (1957-60); reports on department activities (1954, 1956); and miscellaneous material including early correspondence related to the department (1915), unrelated reports submitted to Kross, and a speech by Department of Correction Warden Henry J. Noble in Puerto Rico (1956). Also included in the section is material on the Women's House of Detention. It consists of "The Saga of the House of Detention for Women" (1956), a history of the efforts to replace the existing facility (including forty-five photographs); and miscellaneous correspondence (1965, n.d.). There are related photographs in SERIES V. In addition there are files on a number of organizations in which Kross was involved, including The Fund for Education Concerning World Peace Through World Law (1961-62) and National Council on Crime and Delinquency (1962-74). Miscellaneous subject headings are included in this series because they reflect Kross's interests. These include two speeches delivered to the annual meeting of The American Law Institute (1972); a speech and an article by Kross's son-in-law Marvin E. Frankel (1964, n.d); articles and reports on juvenile delinquency (1951-67); and miscellaneous articles on criminal justice, penology, racism, and addictions.

15 linear inches.

This series is divided into 2 subseries: Photographs and Audiotapes.

There are 121 photographs in this series. With the exception of two unidentified, undated snapshots, which may be family members, and her law school graduation picture (1911) they are all official photographs. They are arranged into three subject areas (personal photographs, Women's House of Correction, and Rikers Island) and then by date. There are ten personal photographs (1911-58, n.d.) which consist of portraits, Kross in her robes, or at her desk. There are forty-nine photographs taken at the New York City Women's House of Correction (1956-65), many of which seem to have been taken for "The Saga of the Women's House of Correction" in SERIES IV. Anna Kross is in many of these and they include photographs of cellblocks, inmates, inmate activities and programs, and staff training. Three include Gypsy Rose Lee with sewing classes and five include Eleanor Roosevelt (1957-58) speaking at the prison. There are nineteen photographs of Rikers Island Prison (1956-66), among them interior shots of the prison kitchen the signing of papers for a bridge to Rikers Island, an Independence Day Field Day (1965), and one including Eleanor Roosevelt.

Miscellaneous photographs are arranged by date. These are primarily official photographs of activities of the Department of Correction and include New York Mayor Robert F. Wagner, Eleanor Roosevelt (4/28/58, 5/6/60, n.d), John Lindsay (2/18/60), Lyndon Baines Johnson (1964), Fannie Hurst (n.d.), Lady Bird Johnson (n.d.), and Dorothy Kenyon (n.d.)

There are twenty five cassette tapes copied from poor quality reel-to-reel tapes (1953-69, n.d.) Included are speeches, broadcasts, and interviews. They are not all of Anna Kross. Many of the tapes are undated and unidentified and some identification is incomplete or unclear. Also the sound quality varies. In addition there are seven reel-to-reel tapes, which because of the speed at which they were taped, could not be copied.

Contents List

Miscellaneous biographical material and memorabilia,
1905-76, undated

Box 1: folder 1
Articles, newspaper clippings, and publicity,
1937-75, undated

Box 1: folder 2
Citations and honors,
1950-73, undated

Box 1: folder 3

1945-66, undated

Box 1: folder 4
Brooklyn Law Review,

Box 1
1946, 1960-65

Box 1: folder 5



Box 2: folder 1-4
Bets, Betty,

Box 2: folder 5
Brand, Sybil,

Box 2: folder 6
Dickinson, LaFell and Lucy,
1952-58, undated

Box 2: folder 7
Ford, Rev. George B.,

Box 2: folder 8
Fowler, Gordon,

Box 2: folder 9
Fox, Lionel,

Box 2: folder 10
Hays, Arthur Garfield,

Box 2: folder 11
John XXIII, Pope,

Box 2: folder 12
McCracken, Rev. Robert J. ,

Box 2: folder 13
Motley, Constance Baker,

Box 2: folder 14
Robinson, James H.,

Box 2: folder 15
Roosevelt, Eleanor,

Box 2: folder 16
Smadbeck, Ruth,

Box 2: folder 17
Taggart, Madge,
1953, 1962

Box 2: folder 18
Wise, Ethel,

Box 2: folder 19
Yeghenian, Ave,

Box 2: folder 20
Zerwick, Chloe and M.B.,

Box 2: folder 21


Box 3: folder 1
Bunke, Adrian: reception in her honor,

Box 3: folder 2
Grace Cox: reception in her honor,

Box 3: folder 3
Eleanor Clark French: campaign for U.S. Congress,

Box 3: folder 4
Leonard N. Cohen: campaign for Civil Court Judge,

Box 3: folder 5

Department of Correction


Box 4: folder 1

Box 4: folder 2

Box 4: folder 3
1954, 1956

Box 4: folder 4
1915, 1941, 1962-65

Box 4: folder 5
House of Detention for Women

"Saga of the House of Detention for Women,"

Box 4: folder 6-7
Miscellaneous reports and correspondence,
1965, undated

Box 4: folder 8
Fund for Education Concerning World Peace Through World Law,

Box 5: folder 1
National Council on Crime and Delinquency,

Box 5: folder 2
1944-74, undated

Box 5: folder 3

American Law Institute,

Box 5: folder 4
Frankel, Marvin E.,
1964, undated

Box 5: folder 5
Juvenile delinquency,
1940-67, undated

Box 5: folder 6
1953-65, undated

Box 5: folder 7


Personal (8),
1911, 1958, undated

Box 6: folder 1
Women's House of Detention

General (44),
1940, 1954-65

Box 6: folder 2
Eleanor Roosevelt (5),

Box 6: folder 3
Rikers Island (18),

Box 6: folder 4
1956-59 (8)

Box 6: folder 5
1960-66 (19)

Box 6: folder 6
undated (19)

Box 6: folder 7
Audiotapes (cassette tapes)

Symposium on Arts and Morals, 23-24 Ben Shahn, Philip Johnson, Edgar Wind, Introductions by George Boas
Apr 1953.

Box 7: folder 1-2
Anna Kross, interview by W. White, KSTM 98,
4 Apr 1954

Box 7: folder 3
Anna Kross, interview,
15 Jul 1957

Box 7: folder 4-6
"This is New York,"
5 Nov 1958

Box 7: folder 7
"Home Term Court," Church of the Incarnation,
25 Sep 1963

Box 7: folder 8
Columbia lectures

"The Changing Of The Guard," Herbert Passin, Daniel Bell,
7 Feb 1964,

Box 7: folder 9
"The Captivity Of The Church In Totalitarian Societies," Michael Wyschograd and Jacob Taubes
12 Feb 1964

Box 7: folder 10
"Ladies of the Press," Anna Kross, guest,
21 Jun 1964

Box 7: folder 11
"W.H.D." (Women's House of Detention?),
18 Mar 1965

Box 7: folder 12
Anna Kross speech at the 8th Annual Conference of the Welfare Council of Monmouth County, Asbury Park, N.J.,
16 Apr 1965

Box 7: folder 13
Portnow article in American Correctional Association Journal, Dec 1966; Botein article, American Bar Association Journal, [Tape #1]

Box 7: folder 14
"Griffin letter; Keyserling, Economic Resources to Eliminate Poverty,"[Tape #2]

Box 7: folder 15
"Battered Child, Psychologically Speaking" [WEVD broadcast],
6 May 1969

Box 7: folder 16
Broadcast on drugs,
15 Mar

Box 7: folder 17
"Prison Story: Powder Keg Behind Bars, News of the World,"NBC,

Box 7: folder 18
Anna Kross, unidentified,

Box 7: folder 19
"Ladies of the Press," Anna Kross, guest,

Box 7: folder 20
"Miscarriage of Justice"

Box 7: folder 21-23

Box 7: folder 24-25

The speed of the following tapes is not compatible with our machines

New York School of Psychology [Psychiatry?] (2 )
26 Nov

Box 8
Unidentified (3)

Box 8
American Correctional Association Seminar,
21 Jun

Box 8
American Correctional Association,

Box 8
Medical Society, Americana Hotel,
25 Sep 1963

Box 8

Search Terms
The following terms represent persons, organizations, and topics documented in this collection. Use these headings to search for additional materials on this web site, in the Five College Library Catalog, or in other library catalogs and databases.

  • Courts--New York (State)--New York-History--Sources
  • Criminals-Rehabilitation--United States-History--20th century--Sources
  • House of Detention for Women--New York (State)--New York--History--Sources
  • Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968
  • Johnson, Lady Bird, 1912--
  • Johnson, Lyndon B. (Lyndon Baines), 1908-1973
  • Juvenile delinquency--New York (State)--New York--History--Sources
  • Kross, Anna Moscowitz, 1891-1979
  • Lee, Gypsy Rose, 1914-70
  • Motley, Constance Baker, 1921- --Correspondence
  • New York (N.Y.)--Department of Correction--History--Sources
  • New York (N.Y.)--Social conditions--20th century--Sources
  • Prisoners--Legal status, laws, etc.--United States--History--Sources
  • Reformatories for women--United States--History--Sources
  • Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962--Correspondence
  • Wagner, Robert F. (Robert Ferdinand), 1910-
  • Women judges--United States--History--Sources
  • Women lawyers--United States--History--Sources
  • Women prisoners--New York (State)--New York--History--20th century--Sources

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