1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY
1400 Washington AveAlbanyNY

Marie Deans Papers


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This collection documents the death penalty abolisionist work of Marie McFadden Deans. A smaller amount of personal materials, such as Deans' poetry and writing, also is included.


Deans, Marie McFadden, 1940-2011
Date Coverage:
5.0 cubic ft. (about 5.0 boxes)

Marie McFadden Deans (1940-2011) was a death penalty abolitionist and an advocate for individuals on death row. Following the murder of her mother-in-law Penny Deans in 1972, Marie Deans began to voice her opposition to capital punishment. In 1976, Marie Deans formed Murder Victims’ Families Against the Death Penalty (later called Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation) and, in 1983, established the Virginia Coalition on Jails and Prisons. Deans worked on legal cases – those of individuals already on death row and individuals on trial for capital crimes, hoping to mitigate their sentences. She visited inmates on the death row, and was present at the executions of almost three dozen individuals in Virginia and South Carolina.

Although the Virginia Coalition on Jails and Prisons closed after a decade of existence, Marie Deans continued to investigate cases, find inmates attorneys, petition for clemency, call for the abolishment of the death penalty, and advocate for prisoners until her death from lung cancer.

The collection includes writings by Marie Deans; clippings about Deans; clippings about death penalty; materials from Virginia Coalition on Jails and Prisons (founded by Deans); correspondence; reports; subject files; and court documents.

The collection is unprocessed and is likely disorganized. Individual items may be difficult to find.

Robert Deans, son of Marie Deans, donated all materials in this collection to the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives in 2018.

Processed by: Jodi Boyle

Collection record created by: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on

Published: 2018-08-31 23:00:51 -0400

Archival materials can be view in-person during business hours in our reading room, located on the top floor of the Science Library on the Uptown Campus.

We can also deliver digital scans for remote research for a fee.

Access to this collection is restricted because it is unprocessed. Portions of the collection may contain recent administrative records and/or personally identifiable information. Please contact an archivist for more information.

Copyright Statement

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The Department of Special Collections and Archives is eager to hear from any copyright owners who are not properly identified so that appropriate information may be provided in the future.

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Marie Deans Papers, 1958-2011. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the Deans Papers).