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Anna Moscowitz Kross papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00087

Scope and Contents

The Anna Moscowitz Kross papers consist 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.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1905 - 1976


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Materials in this collection may be governed by copyright. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. Researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

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.


3.854 linear feet (9 containers)

Language of Materials



Anna Moscowitz Kross was a lawyer, judge, New York City Department of Corrections Commissioner, 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.


This collection is organized into five series:

  1. I. Biographical Material
  2. II. Writings and Speeches
  3. III. Correspondence
  4. IV. Professional Activities
  5. V. Photographs and Audiovisual Materials

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

As a preservation measure, researchers must use digital copies of audiovisual materials in this collection. Please consult with Special Collections staff to request the creation of and access to digital copies.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Anna Moscowitz Kross donated her papers between 1975 and 1977.

Related Material

Additional papers of Anna Kross are in the Jacob Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Finding aid to the Anna Moscowitz Kross papers
Legacy Finding Aid (Updated)
Susan Boone
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss37 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:17-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2019-03-29: Updated finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063