APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2008-12 > 1228331486
From: Rosalie Schack <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Mental Hospitals and records
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2008 19:11:26 +0000
My great grandfather died in the South Dakota State Hospital in 1917, where he had been institutionalized for 14 years. The State Hospital still exists under a different name. When I approached them about getting his records they were unsure what to do, but agreed to give me copies of his admission papers, including the records of an examination by a doctor. They refused to release any records of his years as a patient there, citing patient privacy. They also said that they were unsure if those records still existed. Using the date on the admission papers, I went to the county he had lived in, and was able to get the court records which declared him insane. These were, for some reason I no longer recall, filed in the probate court.
The records from the court had statements as to why his family believed him insane, and the records from the doctor's examination upon admission added interesting symptoms. I took all these papers to a mental health professional, and after some study, she gave me a POSSIBLE diagnosis as to what his mental health problem may have been. She believed it was one of two different diseases, both very treatable with today's drugs, and said he would probably have been able to live a normal life today.
I recently visited the old State Hospital, now the Human Services Center for the State of South Dakota. The old buildings are still there, but not used. A case worker was able to show me which building my great grandfather would have lived in, although we were not allowed inside, due to safety issues. She also gave me a lot of information about the lives of the people who were patients there at the time. They had a garden where they raised food, and they raised animals for meat, eggs, and milk. Many of them had occupations. People in the neighboring town brought in shoes, furniture, and clothing to be repaired by the patients. Unfortunately, there was a dark side, as some patients were kept drugged and restrained. It was a very interesting tour and I was able to take pictures of the buildings and grounds to add to my family history.
If they lived in the institution over a census year be sure to check the census. Each patient should be listed, and sometimes there is an occupation listed for them.
Even if you cannot get the records of the person you are searching for, I suggest you visit the institution if possible, to gain insight into the lives of the people who lived there. If the institution no longer exists, there may be a comparable one that would give you insight into the way the patients were cared for and treated at the time.
Rosalie Eben Schack, CGOwatonna, Minnesota> Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2008 12:47:44 -0800> From: > To: > Subject: Re: [APG] Mental Hospitals and records> > I was reaserching a patient at the Texas State Lunatic Asylum in the 1880s and 1890s. The records officer at the succesor, Texas State Hospital, told me he could not release records because of HIPAA laws. > > I suggested, did it make a difference that the person had been dead for 112 years. I was told there was not time element to the law. He told me that an administrator of the estate could have the records. A present closest kin can go to a judge and become appointed administrator.> > The reocords admin told me to appeal to the Texas Att. Gen through the hosptial office. I did, and the appeal was rejected not by the A.G. but because all other appeals through the hospital to the A.G. were rejected.> > So sometimes you just hit a brick wall. I did find several county court records where the person was judged insane and committed to the TX asymlum and waited for the sheriff to transport him. So all was not lost.> > > Neal McEwen, digging up ancestral bones!> > “Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present, and future.” Gail Lumet Buckley> > > > > > > > > > .> > -------------------------------> To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to with the word 'unsubscribe' without the quotes in the subject and the body of the message
|Re: [APG] Mental Hospitals and records by Rosalie Schack <>|