Tom Kemp, Director of Genealogy Products

Genealogist Q&A

Whether you're a seasoned genealogy pro or just getting started, our Q&A answers the most commonly-asked family history research questions.

Have a question about or hit a brick wall in your family history research? Tom Kemp, Director of Genealogy Products, internationally known librarian, archivist and published author with over 50 years of genealogy experience, provides expert answers to the most commonly-asked genealogy questions in our informative Genealogist Q&A and our complimentary guide "Getting Started Climbing Your Family Tree."

To begin, click on the genealogy question links below to view the answers. Also, download our free Search Tips Guide.

How can I find out about this Federal Court case and Greene's stay at the Detroit House of Correction?

(Photo of Gene Greene from:

Let's review what you know.

From your letter:

I 'm writing a biography of an old vaudeville singer named Gene Greene {Eugene Delbert Greene born: 6-9-1881, died: 4-5-1930). I had reached an impasse in my research because he disappeared from the stage during the period of March 1925 to December of 1926. I didn't know what became of him. I recently found the following article in an online newspaper archive:The April 11, 1926 issue of the Sioux City Journal printed this article: Gene Greene in Detroit Prison. Vaudeville Actor Serving Sixty-Day Sentence for Selling Liquor. Gene Greene, a former favorite with Sioux City vaudeville patrons, who has been proprietor of the G & G Toasty Tasty Sandwich Shoppe, in Detroit, is spending 60 days in the Detroit House of Correction for violation of the Volstead act. Greene pleaded guilty in procession and sale before Federal judge C.W. Sessions. Federal prohibition agents alleged they purchased two quarts of liquor from Greene. Greene claims the agent represented himself as a friend of an actor friend of his and wanted some thing for a little party. Greene further claims that he did accommodate the friend, but just out of friendship.My question for you is do you have any idea of how I could find out about this Federal Court case and Greene's stay at the Detroit House of Correction?


I would suggest that you examine the court records on file with the National Archives. They have an online guide to the Records of the U.S. Circuit and District Courts, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division (Detroit) see:

Notice in particular that this record group has:

Criminal Records, 1851-1971Criminal Docket Books, 1851-1953 (40 vols.)Index of Criminal Bonds and Witness Bonds, 1929-1931 (1 vol.)Criminal Case Files, 1851-1971 (550 cubic feet)

It could be that your case is described there.

These records are on file at the:

National Archives Regional Branch in Chicago, IL.See: 773.948.9001E-mail: chicago.archives@nara.govYou should also contact the:Detroit City Archives65 Cadillac Square Suite 1600Detroit, MI 48226Phone: (313) 628-2055; Fax: (313) 628-2057.

They can advise you if they have other records for the Detroit House of Correction.

All the best in your research,Tom 

Early Image of the Detroit House of Correction

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