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Classification 50: Involuntary Servitude and Slavery

Classification 50 was established in 1921 as one of the original classifications adopted by the Bureau from the Department of Justice filing system. Cases filed in the classification are investigated under the 13th Amendment to the U.S. constitution and various provisions of U.S. Code Title 18. Violations include holding or returning a person to peonage, enticement into slavery, sale into servitude, deprivation of rights under color of low, and conspiracy to violate the rights of citizens. Prior to 1942 the classification was titled "Peonage," and U.S. Attorneys often declined to prosecute cases that did not include the element of debt, for peonage was defined as involuntary servitude plus debt. Consequently, on December 12, 1941, the Department of Justice issued Departmental Circular #3591 in which U.S. Attorneys were instructed to disregard entirely the element of debt and to depend upon the issue of involuntary servitude and slavery. Shortly thereafter the Bureau changed the title of Classification 50 to reflect the revised instructions. The emphasis in type of cases prosecuted clearly changes over time. Earlier cases focus on prison conditions and forced labor in southern penal systems, while by 1980 migrant worker cases comprise a substantial portion of the case load. Cases are extremely varied, however, including such diverse subjects as carnival workers and child prostitution.

NARA online catalog descriptions of holdings for Classification 50: Involuntary Servitude and Slavery

Record GroupNARA IdentifierSeries Title
65568122(Involuntary Servitude and Slavery) Released Under The Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Acts

NARA undescribed holdings for Classification 50: Involuntary Servitude and Slavery

The following records under Classification 50 (Involuntary Servitude and Slavery) are not yet described in NARA's online catalog. Please contact NARA's Special Access Program at with your reference request.

Record GroupFinding Aid EntrySeries Title
65UD 04D 10Classification 50 - Field Office Case Files and Index, 1955-1977
65UD UP 27Classification 50 - Headquarters Case Files
65UD UP 37Classification 50 - Index to Headquarters Case Files, 1921-1950
65UD UP 37AClassification 50 - Microfilm of Headquarters Case Files, 1921-1950

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