My grandmother died at the Cleveland State Hospital during the Flu Epidemic of 1918 after staying there two months. I’ve learned the hospital was torn down, but I could never find out where the records went. How can I get them?A
We received this question in response to a Family Tree Magazine E-mail Update newsletter editorial
about my search for my great-grandmother’s Cleveland (Ohio) State Hospital records. I’d learned from her death certificate that she died there.
To learn the whereabouts of the hospital records, I first did a Google
search on “Cleveland State Hospital”
and learned some history
. The hospital was once called the Newburgh Asylum and was demolished in 1977.
The Google search also led me to a Web page from the Case Western Reserve University archives
, which referred me to the Ohio Historical Society
for patient records. That made sense: Records of a state institution would probably be in that state's archives.
I searched the Ohio Historical Society library catalog
and found (after experimenting with various search terms) entries for patient admission and discharge books. The catalog listing labels these hospital records “restricted” and instructs you to call the archives for more information.
The public can’t access these records because patients named in them may have passed medical conditions to their descendants, who may be living. Instead, I submitted a research request and a $25 fee. A few weeks later, I received a transcription and photocopies of my ancestor’s entries in admission and discharge registers (the archivist had obscured other patients’ names in the photocopy).
A reader e-mailed us a suggestion to examine county court records, too, for documents related to commitment hearings. She’d obtained her great-uncle’s “Inquest of Lunacy 1884, the full medical certificate of the doctor's exam and the application of admission by the probate judge.” Write the court clerk or see if the Family History Library
has microfilmed the records, in which case you'd be able to borrow them for a fee through a branch Family History Center.