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#83543 Ancestor Committed to Insane Asylum

Posted by WandererOTD on 29 May 2017 - 10:44 AM in Discussion

I don't mean to ask any personal records of your person who was committed to an asylum, but HOW did you get a copy of his admission record? What date was he committed, and what state was he committed in?

I had tried to get a copy of records of someone (relative) who was committed, I am guessing about the same time period.  I was told that due to privacy laws, no one but the person could get copies (she passed away about 50 years ago) and that secondly, records from that long ago probably did not exist.

Did you get the records from the asylum directly, or did you get them from a state archives?

Would like to know any particulars you can share, as to how you got the records.

It varies state-to-state, and age of records is a factor as well.  I have been pursuing this for a long time with no success and finally a couple lights appeared at the end of the tunnel.  This was in North Carolina, and the North Carolina State Hospital for the Insane (aka: Dorothy Dix Hospital) at Raleigh, NC.  First learned he was an inmate there through the 1910 US Federal Census.  Secondly I saw on his death certificate that he died there about 9 years later.  The hospital itself has closed, and others on Internet Genealogy forums said they had no luck finding records at all.  I posted a question on a Facebook Genealogy group for North Carolina and got similar results.  At that point I attended Jill Morelli's Illinois State Genealogical Society (ISGS) Webinar Jan 2017 Finding Dirk, and also checked a book on that asylum out from the library.  The book didn't help me with ideas for seeking records, but the webinar did prompt me to look at the North Carolina Archives.  Just about that time, the NC Genealogy Society had posted a note saying that an unscheduled transfer of hospital records dated 1849-1993 had been made which included "Admission Logs, death certificates, scrapbooks, commitment papers, feasibility reports, compiled histories, procedures, newsletters, photographs, and correspondence - amounting to 15 record center boxes, 66 volumes."  I'm not sure exactly when that transfer occurred, but it NCGS noted it in January 2017.  So I contacted the NC Archives and asked specifically about this - and learned that they were working on the records and could I check back in several months.  At that time, they said they had nothing on my ancestor.  I did re-contact them a week or so ago, and they had found 1 hit - a page in an Admission Register.  I now have that page.  During my discussions with the NC Archives, they told me that these hospital records are restricted if under 100 years old (NC General Statute 122C-52).  My ancestor's admission to the hospital was 16 Sep 1909, and his death was 29 Mar 1919.  So, the admission record was outside the restricted period of time for records release.  Hope this helps.  I have a 4-page handout from the ISGS webinar if you'd like a copy.  Let me know.  

#83518 Ancestor Committed to Insane Asylum

Posted by WandererOTD on 28 May 2017 - 08:15 PM in Discussion

Seeking advice on the best fact template to use (best practice) for an ancestor who was committed to an insane asylum.  I now have the admission record - before had just seen (via 1910 US Census and also his Death Certificate) that he was an inmate and that he had died there.  Those of course got logged under the appropriate fact template.  There is only an "illness" fact template - and this isn't an illness in that sense of the word - I think.  I could create a fact template called "Hospitalization", or something perhaps called "Institutionalization", or "Commitment" but I'd like to find a solution that could cover the 9+ years he was there.  Or maybe it isn't necessary given I have the death certificate which shows the end of his stay in the insane asylum.  Would very much appreciate your insights.  


Many thanks in advance.