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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Elsmere in New Castle County, Delaware — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The “Annie Oakleys": First Female Prison Guards in the United States

 
 
The "Annie Oakleys": First Female Prison Guards in the United States Marker image. Click for full size.
By Stephen J Duncan, June 9, 2014
1. The "Annie Oakleys": First Female Prison Guards in the United States Marker
Inscription.  Completed in 1901, the New Castle County Workhouse at Greenbank was named the first penal institution in the United States to employ armed female guards. Nicknamed "Annie Oakleys" for their excellent shooting ability with the machine guns and rifles they carried, the women were first introduced to the Workhouse in 1943 as a solution to the loss of many male guards due to the war effort. the original group of four guards was expanded to eleven after the experiment was deemed a success. They were chosen from a pool of more than 50 applicants who responded to a newspaper advertisement for "women, age 21 to 35 for outside guard duty in towers." Prior to being hired, the women were taken to the Workhouse rifle range for tests involving the knowledge and use of firearms, physical health, and mental alertness. The women were also chosen based on their adaptability to guard responsibilities. All of those hired were Delawareans; many were married with children and made their home either in Wilmington or in the suburbs. Stationed in the Workhouse's three towers, the female guards worked 8-hour shifts, 48 hours per week and were compensated with a monthly
The only remaining tower image. Click for full size.
By Stephen J Duncan, June 9, 2014
2. The only remaining tower
salary of $110.00. Out of concern for their safety, the names of the eleven guards were not released; as 2013 only four guards had been successfully identified. The success of this experiment in the employing of female guards drew inquiries from prison wardens across the country. Thanks in part to the efforts of the "Annie Oakleys," women continue to play an active and important in the corrections profession today.
 
Erected 2014 by Delaware Public Archives. (Marker Number NC-199.)
 
Location. 39° 44.329′ N, 75° 37.823′ W. Marker is near Elsmere, Delaware, in New Castle County. Marker is on Greenbank Rd 0.1 miles west of Albertson Dr., on the right when traveling east. The marker is located directly inside the entrance to Greenbank Park. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 236 Greenbank Rd, Wilmington DE 19808, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Wilmington & Western Railroad (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Greenbank Mill (approx. 0.2 miles away); Fells Mill Historic District (approx. mile away); The Home of William Julius "Judy" Johnson (approx. mile away); The Delaware Continentals (approx.
The top of the tower image. Click for full size.
By Stephen J Duncan, June 9, 2014
3. The top of the tower
0.8 miles away); Camp DuPont (approx. 0.8 miles away); Brandywine Springs (approx. 0.9 miles away); Marshallton (approx. 0.9 miles away).
 
Categories. Civil RightsWomen
 
The "Annie Oakleys": First Female Prison Guards in the United States Marker image. Click for full size.
By Stephen J Duncan, June 9, 2014
4. The "Annie Oakleys": First Female Prison Guards in the United States Marker
The John L. Webb Correctional Center. This facility was once part of the "Workhouse" described on the marker. It is currently a level IV correctional facility for men.
 

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Credits. This page was last revised on April 18, 2018. This page originally submitted on June 10, 2014, by Stephen J Duncan of Wilmington, Delaware. This page has been viewed 764 times since then and 100 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on June 10, 2014, by Stephen J Duncan of Wilmington, Delaware. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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