How Did Kate Richards O'Hare's Conviction and Incarceration for Sedition
during World War I Change Her Activism?


       On April 15, 1919, socialist lecturer and organizer Kate Richards O'Hare (1876-1948) entered the Missouri State Penitentiary at Jefferson City as a federal prisoner to begin serving a five-year sentence for violating the Espionage Act. Although O'Hare served less than fourteen months before President Wilson commuted her sentence, releasing her on May 29, 1920, her prison experiences served as a watershed in her life. While O'Hare's worldview remained socialist, after her release from prison, she largely ceased socialist agitation, devoting considerable energy to reforming the country's penal system. The documents in this project examine the impact of O'Hare's prison experiences on her activism, and explore her subsequent influence on prison reform through her writings, public lecture tours and her actions as Assistant Director of Penology in California.




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