Records of State Mental Hospitals at the Illinois State Archives, Part 1

NOTE: A follow-up to this post was published on Thursday, July 26, 2012, with the title “Help in Accessing Closed Records of Illinois State Mental Hospitals.” It answers many of the questions we have received via comments. To learn more about accessing mental health records, please read this follow-up after reading the post below. To get answers to Individual questions, contact a librarian.

When a genealogist finds an ancestor in the U.S. Census enumerated in a state mental hospital, questions naturally arise.  Why was my ancestor in this institution? How long was he or she there?  What was it like to be there?

The answers to these questions are hard to get because mental health patient records are closed in Illinois.  The patient or his or her guardian must sign a release of information.  After death, the release comes through the executor of the patient’s estate or through a court order issued in an Illinois circuit court.

Patient records are held in one of three places:  the Illinois State Archives (ISA) in Springfield, the hospitals, and more recent records by the Illinois Department of Human Services. The Archives advises that case files were not required to be retained until the early 1980s, so there are likely losses.  Case files from the 1800s at ISA consist of large registers with a few lines of description, not voluminous file folders full of material.

“Basically any record from a mental health and developmental center that mentions a patient name is closed – this includes what would seem like mundane things such as ‘Registers of Visitors’ or ‘Telephone and Telegraph Messages,’” explains ISA archivist John Reinhardt.  It does not matter how old the record is.

The good news is that there are many open records that will give you a context about the institution to which your ancestor was committed.  Examples are photos, floor plans, statistics, funding levels, descriptions of therapeutic programs, and reports on living conditions.

I discuss the open records at the Illinois State Archives in this article.  Future articles will cover the ISA’s closed records and the process of obtaining a court order to access them, as well as additional sources of open and closed material.

Past and Present State Hospitals

  • Alton State Hospital
  • Anna State Hospital
  • Chester State Hospital (treated the criminally insane)
  • Chicago State Hospital
  • Dixon State Hospital (treated epileptics and the developmentally disabled)
  • East Moline State Hospital
  • Elgin State Hospital
  • Galesburg State Research Hospital
  • Jacksonville State Hospital
  • Kankakee State Hospital
  • Manteno State Hospital
  • Neuropsychiatric Institute (Chicago)
  • Peoria State Hospital
  • Tinley Park State Hospital

The Descriptive Inventory of the Archives of the State of Illinois (online at http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/isaholdings.html, or in hard copy at many libraries) provides thumbnail histories of many hospitals and their name changes. For example, RG (Record Group) 267.000 notes how Galesburg State Research Hospital became Galesburg Mental Health Center.

You’ll need both the RG number and the record series number to request holdings at the Archives. 

RG numbers consist of three digits followed by a decimal point and three zeros.  267.000 in the previous paragraph is an example of a RG number. 

Record series numbers indicate sub-sections of record groups.  Record series numbers consist of the first three numerals of the RG number followed by a decimal point and three digits of sequentially ordered numbers.  103.228 mentioned later in this article is an example of a record series number.  It identifies “Governors’ subject files (index division)” within records from the Secretary of State’s Office at RG 103.000.

Although mail research requests are permitted, they can only be done for indexed records, and only three of the record series listed below contain indices. “Due to limitations on staff time we are unable to research administrative or correspondence files or any non-indexed records,” clarifies Reinhardt, “but they are available for public use at the Archives.  I highly recommend that, prior to making a mail request, researchers contact us regarding the ability of our staff to research the records of interest and for clarification of any research and copy fees.” 

Illinois residents pay no research fee and receive up to two non-certified photocopies (if found) at no charge when submitting a research request.  The cost of additional photocopies is $0.50/page.

Non-residents prepay a non-refundable $10 fee that includes up to two non-certified photocopies (if found).  The cost of additional photocopies is $0.50/page. See http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/fee_schedule.html for more information.

The ISA reserves the right to limit the number of additional photocopies provided both to Illinois and non-Illinois residents, based on the amount of material requested, because of the small number of staff.

Given that distance research is severely limited, and that most of the material is unindexed, in-person visits will be most productive.  You are the best judge of what you want to learn and the level of detail you wish to pursue. You will also make many more contextual connections reviewing a swath of material and forming a big picture. The archivists are there to answer questions that arise. It’s actually a more efficient use of your time to do the research in person.  Just make sure to double-check with the Archives before your visit to confirm access to the items you wish to see.

Contact information: Illinois State Archives, Norton Building, Capitol Complex, Springfield, IL 62756, telephone (217) 782-4866, facsimile (217) 524-3930.  Hours are 8 am – 4:30 pm weekdays, except state holidays.  The Norton Building is located near the northwest corner of Edwards Street and Second Street.  Use the handicapped-accessible entrance.  Like other government archives, you’ll need to go through a metal detector in the lobby and store coats and large items in a locker.  Parking is available at the Visitor’s Center on Edwards Street between College and Pasfield. Daily Amtrak trains also serve Springfield; the station at 100 N. Third Street is about five blocks away.

Open Records of State Hospitals at the Illinois State Archives

These edited listings are taken from the Descriptive Inventory and include the RG number, the name of the department that created the records, the subcategory, the overall date span, the total number of cubic feet of records, and the presence or absence of an index. I have listed them in RG order.  When no particular hospital is noted in the listing, assume that the records apply to all of the hospitals and/or references to all hospitals will be contained therein.

103.228 — Secretary of State

EXECUTIVE SECTION. GOVERNORS’ SUBJECT FILES (INDEX DIVISION). 1824-1960. 24 cu. ft. No index.  Mainly reports on expenditures, buildings and grounds and so forth.

  • Anna State Hospital (1869-1896)
  • Chester State Hospital (1893-1896)
  • East Moline State Hospital (1891-1896)
  • Elgin State Hospital (1870-1895)
  • Jacksonville State Hospital (1865-1871; 1879-1880; 1885-1896)

206.002 – Dept of Public Welfare

ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS. Ca. 1928-1961. 66.5 cu. ft. No index.

Photographs of buildings, grounds, special facilities, and patient activities at mental institutions; annual reports of the Department of Public Welfare and of divisions, institutions, and programs under its control; reports of investigations of these institutions.

Continued by 218.001 — Dept of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities

ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS. 1961-1973. 27 cu. ft. No index.

Per ISA:  “These records do not normally contain patient names and are open with limited restriction – our staff reserves the right to review any material prior to it being copied by a patron in order to insure that no identifying information related to a patient is compromised.”

206.007 – Dept of Public Welfare

GENERAL ORDERS. 1910-1923. 1 vol. Index, 1910-1915, 2 vols.

Orders to department institutions concern patient care, duties of officers of institutions, construction of facilities, employee conduct, appointments, salaries, supplies, holidays, appropriations, job descriptions, workmen’s compensation, unions, safety, name changes of state institutions, and new divisions within the department.

206.009 – Dept of Public Welfare

REPORT ON THE STATE MENTAL HOSPITALS IN ILLINOIS. 1953. 3 vols. No index. Report of the Central Inspection Board of the American Psychiatric Association surveys, evaluates, and provides recommendations in regard to the operational phases of state mental health facilities.  Facilities evaluated include:

  • Alton State Hospital
  • Anna State Hospital
  • Chicago State Hospital
  • East Moline State Hospital
  • Elgin State Hospital
  • Galesburg State Hospital
  • Illinois Security Hospital
  • Jacksonville State Hospital
  • Kankakee State Hospital
  • Manteno State Hospital
  • Peoria State Hospital

218.008 — Dept of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities

HOSPITAL ACCREDITATION SURVEY FILES. 1971-1974. 6 cu. ft. No index.

Records arranged by facility include correspondence concerning survey preparation, completed survey questionnaires, lists of standards with the facility’s performance noted, and survey results and recommendations. Questionnaires contain information on capacity of facilities, types of care available, construction, hospital bylaws, hospital ownership and management, compliance with laws and regulations, hospital resources, number and type of practitioners, and type and condition of facilities and equipment used. Records are included for:

  • Alton State Hospital
  • East Moline State Hospital
  • Elgin State Hospital
  • Galesburg State Hospital
  • Jacksonville State Hospital
  • Kankakee State Hospital
  • Manteno State Hospital
  • Peoria State Hospital

218.013 — Dept of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities

FACILITY CLOSING FILES. 1975-1986. 2 cu. ft. No index.

Files include departmental surveys, proposals, studies, reports, and related correspondence which concern the closing and consolidation of mental health facilities. Subjects include statewide changes in client populations, the disposition of residents at facilities scheduled for closing, employee layoffs and transfers, displaced employee re-education programs, conversion and reuse of facilities, physical plant shutdowns, and the disposition of equipment. Also included are maps of facility grounds, structure floor plans, press releases, and newspaper clippings. Facilities addressed in these files include:

  • East Moline Mental Health Center
  • Galesburg Mental Health Center
  • Manteno Mental Health Center

243.012 — Dept of Corrections

DISCHARGE RECORD. 1878-1918; 1922-1970. 7 vols. Partial index, 1878-1918.

Record shows the inmate’s name, registration number, and type of discharge. For 1878-1918 record gives detailed information on escapes, deaths, pardons, and transfers to the insane asylum.

Per ISA:  Because these are prison records, they are open 75 years to the day after their creation. For example, a discharge record created February 3, 1937 would be open February 3, 2012.

 252.017 — Jacksonville Mental Health and Development Center

BIENNIAL REPORTS. 1847-1862. 1 vol. No index.

Biennial reports of the trustees, superintendent, and treasurer to the General Assembly include narratives on the construction and renovation of facility structures and sanitation systems; funding and expenditures; patient admissions, treatments, recoveries, and deaths; farm and garment shop production; legislation affecting the mentally ill; and personnel matters. Attached to narratives are listings of institution officers; copies of the institution’s articles of incorporation, bylaws, and general rules; and statistics concerning admissions, recoveries, discharges, funding, expenditures, and farm and garment shop production.

258.002 — Kankakee Mental Health Center

PATHOLOGICAL REPORTS. May 1, 1893-July 1, 1895. 1 vol. Index.

Autopsy reports on 192 patients are arranged by the type of diagnosed mental condition (e.g., senile dementia, chronic mania, organic brain disease). Reports include the patient’s admission number, age, and sex, cause of death, and comments regarding the conditions of vital organs. Occasionally provided are the duration of the mental condition, the length of institutionalization, and comments on the patient’s behavior. Also included are summaries of autopsy observations, photographs and drawings of the brain and other vital organs, and closing remarks of the staff pathologist concerning overall observations.

 Per ISA:  “These records are open to public inspection without restriction since no patient names are given.”

262.011 — East Moline Mental Health Center

PHOTOGRAPH FILES. 1898-1962. 0.25 cu. ft. No index.

Files include twelve photographs of former superintendents of the facility and six photographs of the grounds prior to the construction of the East Moline Mental Health Center building.

262.012 — East Moline Mental Health Center

SCRAPBOOK. 1953-1964. 1 cu. ft. No index.

Scrapbook of newspaper clippings concerns staff appointments, visitation days, mental illness panel discussions, volunteer programs, therapy projects, legal cases, facility improvements, operations of the hospital farm, recognition of personnel, Mental Health Week activities, hospital conditions, and fund drives.

 306.001 — Board of Mental Health Commissioners

ADMINISTRATIVE RECORDS. 1929-1971. 30 cu. ft. No index.

General file contains a wide range of material including reports, surveys, and investigations of state mental institutions, including material from the board’s 1962 investigation of Anna State Hospital; promotional material and publications of the Departments of Public Welfare and Mental Health; and photographs of inmates and employees of Jacksonville State Hospital taken during a 1963 legislative tour.

 351.003 — Board of Administration

REPORTS OF OFFICIAL VISITS. 1910-1915. 1 vol. No index.

Reports were made by the board’s alienist*, fiscal supervisor, physician, and various committees after visiting state institutions. Reports primarily deal with the treatment and care of inmates, living conditions, and maintenance of institutional property.

* A physician who is an expert witness on mental competence.

by Grace Dumelle, Genealogy and Local History Assistant

Comments

Ancestor (great-grandmother): Florence Wright Baker - was supposedly burned bad, taken to a home in Lincoln, Illinois. Western Union papers communicated on the status to my great-grandfather, Frank Baker, one said - she is feeble minded and does not fit in with anyone here… then was transferred to Jacksonville Mental Hospital. Died on March 13, 1926. Certificate Number 2690122. Possibly buried at the Jacksonville Hospital Cemetery. Had two children: Ruby Julia Margaret Baker and Lena Rachel Baker
Our policy is not to answer questions of a specific nature on the blog as we don't feel we can give a complete answer in this space. Instead, we encourage people to write us at genealogy@newberry.org or use the "contact a librarian" form found at: http://www.newberry.org/contact-librarian.
I am researching the life of my Uncle who was a patient at Manteno between 1950 and 1969. How would I best go about obtaining his records? My father (his brother) was his closest living family member and can help. I live overseas in Norway, but am planning a trip to Chicago mid-July for research. I´m greatly appreciative if you can guide my efforts to make the best of my time in Chicago. Thanks!
Some records related to inmates seem to have ended up in the circuit court records collections, and I'm not sure what the difference is. For example, my great-grandmother lived most of her life and died at East Moline State Hospital. A gigantic folder of her records was part of the circuit court's records in her home county in IL, and included doctor's evaluations, etc. Are there OTHER records besides these that I could hope to locate through the State Archives? Do you have any idea how these ended up in the circuit court?
A response was sent to David privately.
You can check the Descriptive Inventory (link in the article) to see what other records are held by the Archives. I limited my article to open records. In your case, East Moline State Hospital holdings are particularly rich: admissions record (sic), casebooks, case files, and records of paroles and escapes. The inventory provides the dates and details. Note these are all closed records and require a court order for access. Regarding the records found in the circuit court, I believe they are commitment records, used to demonstrate the need for initial and continuing treatment. I have been told court orders are needed for circuit court records as well.
Hi, my name is Paula Ramos and my grandmother Doris Totten was a patient at Manteno Hospital for 40 yrs...(1931-1971). She died there and was buried there. I don't know the exact reason she was placed in there but family secret's were rampit and it was said that she had a nervous breakdown because of her mother's death in 1931 shortly before she was admitted. My grandmother had 3 children and her husbands name was Paul Totten. I don't know what happened to him because he did not raise the children and we never even seen pictures of him. A great Aunt in Michigan raised the kids and like I said they keep something very bad a secret about my Grandmothe Doris. I just now found out through my mother's first cousin that his mother told him that my mother was a product of a RAPE. His mother told him in secretcy and now that my mother has passed away, he has revealed this to me. It s seems that someone in the Institution an Male Nurse or Orderly apparently Rape my grandmother and my mother was a product of that rape. My mother passed away 2 yrs ago and I don't know how much she knew but I knew she always tried to find the man she thought was her father.( Paul Totten.) Now that we know about this horrible ordeal, I would like to know if someone was caught or was a complaint issued or actions taken or what. My poor grandmother spent 40 yrs in Manteno and nobody got her out and I am wondering why. I would like to be able to get some kind of records if there are any and see if we could possibly find out who our real grandfather is. It does say on my mother's birth certificate that her father was a Male Nurse, but his name was not Paul Totten we do know that now. Paul Totten was my mother's sister and brother's father but not her's. I think maybe he left the family early on, I don't know. My gandmother's father put her in Manteno after his wife died and left and went back to Michigan. I would just like to know something if possible.
My great great grandfather Ferdinando (Frank) Padula was admitted to Chicago State Hospital in Norwood Park, 1922 and died there. I would like to know what he died of. Can you help me obtain these records or will they be sealed?
Patrons often come to us about complex and sensitive issues of family history such as yours. We sympathize with this upsetting discovery and hope the following will be of help. If there was a complaint against the rapist, it may have been internal to Manteno, or it may have been prosecuted as a criminal case. For internal complaints, RG 206.02, Dept of Welfare administrative records 1928-1961 at the Illinois State Archives may have annual reports by the hospital. This is an open record group. For criminal cases, contact : Clerk of the Circuit Court of Kankakee County, 450 E. Court St. Kankakee, Illinois 60901 (815) 937-2905 circuitclerk@k3county.net The rape would have occurred roughly nine months prior to your mother's birth. Use that date as the starting date for a complaint search. Check for newspaper articles, in Manteno, Kankakee and Chicago. The Illinois Newspaper Project can assist in determining which libraries or archives hold Manteno and Kankakee newspapers. http://www.library.illinois.edu/inp/database.php. The 1930 and 1940 censuses list hospital employees who resided on the grounds. You can develop a list of male nurses from those entries. There is a list of employees at http://www.mantenostatehospital.com.
Death certificates for individuals who died in Cook County 20 or more years ago are available from the Cook County Clerk's Office. Details are available on their website at: http://www.cookcountygenealogy.com/ For further information about Cook County Vital records, also see: http://chicagoancestors.org/downloads/vital.pdf
My question is somewhat different. I'm a PhD candidate working on my dissertation. I'm really interested in the role of parents and staff in the Illinois institution at Lincoln around the turn of the 20th century. The finding aid indicates there are school progress reports and parent satisfaction surveys in the restricted records. I'd really like to see those records to find out what the staff considered to be progress in the school, what questions they were asking parents in order to measure satisfaction and what parents thought of the institution. I'm really not interested in the individual resident records but need to see them to get the information I need. These are records that are very rare and contain information that could deepen our understanding of the operation and function of the institution at that time. I will need a court order to see these records and have no idea how to proceed. Any suggestions?
Can I obtain information from an uncle who died at East Moline Illinois State Hospital? He died 18 July 1970. He lived in the veterans home and worked in the commissary. My interest for genealogy of the family tree about his dates of commitment and support he received. Thanks
@ Barb - The best course of action would be to start with some legal advice. If you don't know of a lawyer who can assist you, you may want to try the Illinois State Bar Association service available at: http://www.illinoislawyerfinder.com/phone-referral. Good luck with your project!
@Keith - It appears that the veterans' home records may not be subject to the same confidentiality rules as the mental health records. We suggest you contact the Illinois State Archives and ask for clarification of the restrictions on these records. http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/home.html
I am desperately trying to find more genealogical information on my former Mother-in-law, Betty C. Gordon. She died on January 20,1948 and was confined to the Illinois State Hospital in Norwood Pk.,Il for 7yrs.,4mos., and 21 days. She died at the state hospital. As she was an immigrant from Sweden, before she married my father-in-law (Wayne Gordon), I am hoping to find her marriage date and any other genealogical finds that may be on her records there. I do not need to know details of her confinement there, just historical facts. I am a member of Ancestry.com, but some of these records are not available on that site. I would appreciate it if you could tell me how to access her records there. Thank you
My father, Irvin John Kunz dob 4/9/1929 was likely in a state mental health facility in the late 1950's - 1970's. We are trying to find out the name of the facility near Springfield and if there is a mental health facility related to the criminally insane. We belive that he was first at the Central State Hospital in Waupun, WI. Any information about the institution may help fill in the historical gaps.
@Lorelei - As mentioned in the article, most of these records are sealed. Watch for further posts in this blog as Grace shares her attempt to access records for one of her family members.
@Candace - The Descriptive Inventory of the Archives of the State of Illinois (online at http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/isaholdings.html, or in hard copy at many libraries) provides thumbnail histories of many hospitals and their name changes. Search the document for the phrase "insane criminals" to find references that may answer your questions.
My great Aunt, Tekla Sobczyk, now deceased was a patient at he Chicago State hospital. I believe she was admitted in the 1920's or 30s and passed away in 1968. I have her death certificate issued from the State of Illinois recorded 11/6/1968. I know she is buried at Irving Prk Cemetery. Notification from CHICAGO STATE HOSPITAL on my great aunt's death was communicated via Western Union telegram dated 11/4/1968 signed by HYMON C. POMP, PHD SUPT. Chicago State Hospital. They were requesting permission for autopsy. I would like to request her medical records to obtain when and why she was admitted. Please advise how I may do so. Thank you.
While searching my father's ancestry, I find that he had an aunt that he did not know existed. I see that she was living at home on the 1920 census and not on the 1930 census. Further findings show that she died at Anna State Hospital May 11, 1928. I would like to know the reason she was admitted to the hospital and the reason she died to find a possible connection with mental illness in our family.
@Karen and Janet - Grace has published a follow-up post that addresses your questions. The post is titled "Help in Accessing Closed Records of Illinois State Mental Hospitals" and is available at: http://www.newberry.org/help-accessing-closed-records-illinois-state-mental-hospitals?page=0
My mother, Marion Cave, was a patient at Alton State Hospital in 1960-61. How can I obtain information about her diagnosis and treatment? I have a daughter who is mentally ill and I would like family history information to be further enlightened about my daughter's diagnosis and future treatment. Thank you.
My Grandmother Evelyn Meyers was in Elgin State Mental Hospital for 20 or so years until her death in 1963. Her records could very well be available in Lake County Illinois court records because of custody issues. My father, David Leonard Meyers was in the Dorcus Home a religious "orphanage". She was married to Norman Meyers born 1900. I am in search of official records and accounts of her time at Elgin. I am told she had post partum depression and could not care for her children, was raped by a hospital worker, and catatonic.
I'm trying to get information on my great uncle who dies at Kankakee state hospital, May 27 1920, His name was Julian Leroy Monaghan, he was in a reformatory when his WW1 draft registration was given..I am at a loss as to where to start trying to get this information..also is there anyway that I can obtain info as to why he was in the reformatory??? I have heard rumors that he may have hung himself..he was only in his early 20's...any info would be greatly appreciated...
Thanks to all for your comments and questions. Be sure to check out Part II of this post, "Help in Accessing Closed Records of Illinois State Mental Hospitals," available at: http://www.newberry.org/help-accessing-closed-records-illinois-state-mental-hospitals?page=0
any update please? Thank you.
Please see the post above. Thank you.
Thanks to the recent release of the 1940 Census on ancestry.com I have uncovered a missing piece of information about my uncle Edward Latuszek (filed incorrectly as Latuzek). He was a patient at Dixon State Hospital and died there in 1941. My mother is the last surviving Latuszek and as a young girl was told her brother died in the street after a fight. Recently an older relative remembers hearing that Edward was kicked in the head by a horse. I will try to travel to Springfield in the near future but I wonder if you can help. He died 21 Feb 1941. Many thanks
We are trying to find our grandfather who disappeared in the 1930s. We believe he was in Manteno State Hospital in 1940 (1940 census). We can't seem to find any other information on him. Any help or direction you can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.
@ Donna - as an immediate family member your mother can request her brother's medical records (if certain other conditions can be fulfilled) as described in my followup post of July 26. These records may reference head trauma as the cause of his condition. You might also try indexes to lawsuits, on the theory that the family sued the owner of the horse. If your uncle lived in the Chicago area, you could also try the digitized Chicago Tribune for mention of the incident.
@ Madeline - if he was in Manteno in the 1940 census then read my followup post on ways to access patient records. For other kinds of records, think about these possibilities: Divorce record; WII records - is he in the "old man's draft" in 1942?; Property records - did he own the family residence?; telephone books; records of siblings. For instance, in their death notices is he mentioned as being alive or being deceased? Is he mentioned in their wills?; occupational records - did he belong to a union, if so a death benefit may have been paid; could he have gone to another state to find work?
I am trying to get information regarding my Great Grandmother, Mary Platt Connors, who I believe died while a patient at Elgin State Hospital for the Insane in 1899. I have a death certificate, but there is no identifying information such as maiden name, husband's name, etc. to determine if this is really her. I also believe that my Grandmother, Jessie Marie Connors, may have been born while Mary was a patient there on Dec. 17, 1898,since I am having trouble locating a birth certificate for Jessie. My Grandmother said that her mother died when she was a baby (so that fits) and there is mental illness in the family, so I would be interested to find out what she was being treated for. The death certificate says "chronic mania" but I know in those days patients sometimes ended up in the mental hospital for other reasons such as alcoholism. The death certificate mentions "Freeport City Cemetery" as her place of burial, so I fear that may be an unmarked grave if they routinely buried the mental patients there, as I can't locate a grave for her on-line. Would I have to get a lawyer to open the records since they are about 100 years old? Any help you can provide would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance, Linda
@ Linda - Linda, The Elgin Genealogical Society is helpful with queries about Elgin State Hospital. There is a $10 research fee. Contact ElginGS@aol.com or P.O. Box 1418, Elgin, IL 60121-1418. Regarding your grandmother's birth certificate, birth registration was spotty in Illinois prior to 1916. Jessie may have filed a delayed birth certificate when she needed proof for a job or a pension. Check in her adult county of residence. For Mary's patient records, if there are no immediate family members left to request them, then yes, you'd need a lawyer to obtain a court order. My understanding is that orders requested in counties outside of Cook, such as Kane County, take less time and paperwork. Just ran across this: "(v) when requested by a family member, the Department of Human Services may assist in the location of the interment site of a deceased recipient who is interred in a cemetery established under Section 26 of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Administrative Act." Source: 740 ILCS 110/11 (Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act). You may want to pursue this for your great-grandmother, though some forum postings stated that facilities refused to let relatives see the graves.
My Great-Grandfather Frank T Stewart lived on Congress Street in Chicago for several years and then moved into a mental Institute in the Chicago area sometime between 1940 and 1942 where he passed away in about 1942. I would like to verify the date of his death, what his diagnosis was, and what hospital he was admitted to. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you.
@Jim - I suggest you start by locating your great-grandfather's death certificate. There are several indexes you can check to help you narrow down the date and obtain the certificate. Our guide to Cook County vital records has the details you'll need. Its available online from the "Tools" page of ChcagoAncestors.org or at: http://chicagoancestors.org/downloads/vital.pdf
Hi. My grandfather was a patient at Manteno, I was told but found him in the 1940 census at the US Veteran's Administeration in Lake County in Shields Township. He had syphilis and eventually died of GPI, which is what possibly sent him to Manteno after 1940. He died in 1944. Do you know if the Lake County Veteran's location was for mental issues (Veterans), as he was listed as an INMATE like other state hospital patients. How could I obtain records for him? Thank you.
@ Teresa - Use of the term inmate, does seem to imply that his condition may have been mental rather than physical, in which case he would have been listed as a patient. Per the 1940 Census: Instructions to Enumerators (available online at: http://usa.ipums.org/usa/voliii/inst1940.shtml) "449. Occupants of an institution, prison, school, etc., living in the institutional building or buildings, should be designated as officer, inmate, patient, pupil, etc.; and in the case of the chief officer, his title should be used, as superintendent, warden ,principal, etc., instead of the word "Head."" The records from the Department of Veterans Affairs may be available by FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Request. Further details are available on their website at: http://www.foia.va.gov/FOIA_FAQ.asp
My maternal grandfather used to tell me that he had a sister who suffered from epilepsy and died in an Illinois state hospital. We believe it was the Alton State Hospital since that was the nearest one to her home in Jerseyville. I recently found his sister, Nora, in the 1900 census, but she and her mother seemed to disappear after that. Are there census records for the Alton State Hospital for 1910? Thank you for any information you can provide. Naomi Henson Miller, Sedalia, Colorado
@Naomi - The patients. or "inmates" of the mental health institutions were enumerated in the 1910 census, however the Alton State Hospital did not accept its first patients until 1914. You may want to try the Jacksonville State Hospital (also known as Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane).
My grandfather may have been an employee of the Dixon State Hospital in 1940. Is there an online source to determine whether or not someone worked at the hospital?
@Colleen - There is no online listing of the 1940 employees of Dixon. There are several other places you may want to check, however. The Illinois State Library holds Dixon City Directories for this time period and the 1940 U.S. federal census may give you a clue. If he worked there for several years, you may find further information on a WWII draft registration card or his SS5 Social Security Application form. The most likely place in the Illinois State Archives appears to be the following collection, but you should contact the archives for a more accurate assessment of their records: http://archon.ilsos.net/index.php?p=collections/controlcard&id=60&q=dixon+employees
I have run into information indicating that my Great Grandfather, John Broderick, died in Anna hospital on Dec. 16, 1900. Searching for information as to cause of death and the illness that brought hin to Anna State hospital. Thank you for any help.
@Sally - A good way to start would be to locate your great-grandfather's death certificate which should state the cause of death. A copy of the certificate can be obtained from the Illinois Regional Archives Depository at Southern Illinois University (SIU). Illinois Regional Archives Depository c/o Special Collections Morris Library – 6632 Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-6632 618-453-3040 Hours: Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (except state holidays) For more on accessing the closed hospital records see the post titled "Help in Accessing Closed Records of Illinois State Mental Hospitals" on this blog. It's available at: http://www.newberry.org/help-accessing-closed-records-illinois-state-mental-hospitals?page=0
My gr-gr-granduncle was in the VA part of Elgin State Hospital in 1930-1931 where he died. Where might I find information on him during his stay?
@Lisa - We suggest starting with the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Center is the repository for millions of military personnel, health and medical records for discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century. Their contact information and a description of the Center can be found at: http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/
I am researching my grandmother, Marie Clausen [nee Burke], who was according to my father 'taken away' to an asylum when he was 7 [in about 1931]. He never saw her again - he said she was taken to an asylum. She was married to Harry Clausen [b.10 Mar 1894] - we are not sure of her exact birthday as dad and his siblings were never told much. She had 6 children. We can find her in the 1940 census - it records her as living with her family [but we know that this can't be as dad said she never came home again]. There is also a Marie Claussen in the Chicago State Insane Hospital, Norwood Park, in the 1940 census - the right age and it shows her as also being there in 1935 as well. As I live in Australia and no-one has any records of her, as well as my father having passed away [I do have his birth and death certificates], how I can or if I can obtainany information about her from the hospital records? Even my father never knew whathappened to his mother - and we would like to know. Thank you. Jane
My grandmother died in 1959 after taking her life and years in and out of Elgin State Hospital. I am her grand-daugher and her children have passed. How and can I obtain any records on her?
@ Jane - Here are several things you can try: If Harry died in Cook County, the Cook County Circuit Court Archives holds the probate records for Cook county. You may find a clue in the probate file. They also have a guardian index that may be of help. The Archive's website is: http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/?RecArchivePage=6000&section=RecArchivePage A death notice for Harry might also mention Mary and narrow down the possible time frame of her death. In order to look at the admissions records, you will need a court order. Please see the following post for more details. http://www.newberry.org/help-accessing-closed-records-illinois-state-mental-hospitals?page=0
@ Nancy - For more on accessing the closed hospital records see the post titled "Help in Accessing Closed Records of Illinois State Mental Hospitals" on this blog. It's available at: http://www.newberry.org/help-accessing-closed-records-illinois-state-mental-hospitals?page=0
I am looking into how to obtain the records from the Manteno Hospital as well. I am waiting to hear from the States Atty office in Chicago. I know you have to get a court order to even get the time frame they may have been in. Once I find something I will post how to obtain. Both of my great-grandparents were in and not sure for how long. I am thinking sometime between 1935-1945. All I was told, was that they were both drunks. They both died at thier homes in Chicago though.

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