In 1857 a new wing was added to the Monroe County (N.Y.) Alms House specifically for care of the mentally disabled. Known thenceforth as the Monroe County Insane Asylum, the facilty was moved to a separate building in 1862. In 1890, the New York State Legislature passed legislation to establish a state-wide system of psychiatric hospitals. In those counties where asylums already existed, the State offered to purchase asylums and continue their operation under State administration and funding. Monroe County accepted this offer, and on July 1, 1891, the Monroe County Insane Asylum became the Rochester State Hospital. Early in the 1970s, the hospital became the Rochester Psychiatric Center, under which name it continues to operate.
The records of the Rochester State Hospital have been organized in four series:
Although the admission and discharge records are complete between 1891 and the early 1950s, the bulk of the clinical and operational records span the years 1891-1927. These years represent the thirty-five year superintendency of Eugene Henry Howard (1850-1927), an 1873 graduate of the University of Buffalo Medical Dept., who was superintendent of the Monroe County Insane Asylum at the time of its acquisition by the State.
The historical records of the Rochester State Hospital were transferred to the Edward G. Miner Library in 1977 through the cooperation of Russell Barton, M.D., the Hospital’s director, and John Romano, M.D., the first chairman of the Dept. of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. The collection was completely reorganized and reprocessed in the autumn of 2009. The Records of the Rochester State Hospital comprise 67 bound folio volumes and 73 document boxes occupying sixty-eight linear feet.
Because these records contain sensitive patient information, the State of New York has requested that these records be closed to the general public, including genealogists. Academic or other organization-based researchers who wish to access these records must obtain permission from Laurence Guttmacher, M.D., Clinical Director, Rochester Psychiatric Center, 1111 Elmwood Ave., Rochester NY 14620. A statement of research interest and the need to consult these records should accompany the permission request.
1.1 ADMISSIONS RECORDS
The admissions records of the Rochester State Hospital are complete from 1891 through 1954. The printed blank registers used for recording patient admissions were of similar format throughout this period and include the patient’s name, date of admission, place of residence at time of admission, the agent of commitment (e.g., state or county judge, the Superintendent of the Poor, voluntary, etc.), the source of the patient’s maintenance (county, State or private), where the patient was brought from (e.g., another State hospital, prison, hospital, or from home), and general remarks. From 1903 the column headed “Brought from” in the ledgers was used to record one- to three-word diagnoses. The admission registers used from 1926 include additional information such as age, citizenship, and the name of the patient’s physician. Admission records from 1923 indicate some or perhaps most of the time whether the patient was African-Amercian (“Col.”), and from 1926 whether the patient was a member of the military. The relation of the overlapping October 1910-September 1921 admissions register to other registers recording these years is unclear.
1.2. DISCHARGE RECORDS
The discharge records of the Rochester State Hospital are complete from the years 1891 to 1950. The printed ledgers used to record patient discharges during these decades are almost identical in format and include date of discharge, the patient’s name, case book number, age, condition (e.g., “improved,” “recovered,” “deceased”), diagnosis (“form of insanity”), duration of illness prior to admission, “period under treatment,” and a column for “cause of death and remarks,” which describes the medical cause of the patient’s death or provides remarks such as “eloped … not returned,” “escaped,” “custody of daughter,” etc.
1.3. RELATED ADMISSION & DISCHARGE RECORDS
This volume contains a list of patients admitted to the Monroe County Insane Asylum or to the Rochester State Hospital between 1857 and 1897. The index is arranged alphabetically, and includes the patient’s name, dates of admission and discharge, and reference to the patient’s records in the Case Books, Clinical Records, Burial Records, Autopsy Records and Prescription Records.
Admission & Discharge Records. No. 1
On facing pages this ledger provides admission and discharge records for each yearly quarter between July 1, 1891 and March 31, 1896. The ledger provides the date of admission or discharge, the patient’s name, county of residence, and a column for “remarks” (e.g., “escaped,” “recovered,” etc.).
Although the backstrip and spine label are missing from this bound volume, the front free endpaper is labelled in pencil “Hospital Comm.” Page 1 contains the minutes of what apparently was the first meeting of the Committee on Hospital & Grounds, held on July 27, 1891. Pages 2-20 contain the record of patients “discharged by order of the Hospital Committee” between July 4, 1891 and March 24, 1894. Other than the patient’s name and date of discharge, no patient information is provided in this book.
Patients’ Board Journal. No. 2
The Patients’ Board lists patients admitted either to the Monroe County Insane Asylum or to the Rochester State Hospital between 1857 and 1893. This ledger is arranged under the entity funding the patient’s board, e.g., Monroe County, Wayne County, the State Board of Charities, etc. An index to these funding entities is provided on a handwritten slip pasted to one of the preliminary leaves. Each entry includes the patient’s name, gender, age, place of residence, dates of admission and discharge, and “How disposed of” (e.g., deceased, “changed to private patient,” “To Willard,” etc.).
Physicians Monthly Reports
The typewritten label on the spine of this four-ring binder reads “Physicians’ Monthly Reports.” The volume consists of monthly reports of the out-patient department of the Rochester State Hospital from July 1936 through March 1944. Each monthly form records the number (but not the names) of patients attended at each clinic, the number of first visits, returned visits, paroled patients, discharged patients, “purpose of visit,” etc.
1.4. PAROLE RECORDS
The parole records span the period 1903-1945 with considerable gaps, as well as a replication that indicates two sets of records were maintained. A tall, slender ledger for the years 1903-1909 provides simply the patient’s name and the date paroled and date returned. The next four volumes in the subseries are identical in format, but for reasons that remain unclear, overlap chronologically. These ledgers provide the patient’s name and “address at time of admission,” the date paroled and date returned, the name, relation and address of the person to whom the patient was paroled, and a final column headed “Result of parole” (e.g., “discharged,” “recovered,” etc.).
Eugene H. Howard, M.D. & Unidentified Staff
2.1. PATIENT CASE HISTORIES
The patient case histories contained in these ten volumes span the period from July 1891, when the Monroe County Insane Asylum became the Rochester State Hospital, through December, 1897. There are four volumes of case histories for male patients and four volumes for female patients. Four pages are allotted to each patient record. The first page is a printed form containing the patient’s name, admission data (e.g.., date & authorization for commitment), personal data (i.e., age, place of birth, occupation, religion, etc.), physical data (e.g., pulse, weight, etc.), and a single-word diagnosis of the patient’s condition at admission. On the pages that follow the attending physician(s) provided dated entries describing the patient’s condition. The fact that the two unnumbered volumes are largely blank suggests that case histories were no longer recorded in this format after 1897.
2.2. CLINICAL RECORD, VOL. I
This single volume labelled “Clinical Record. Vol. I” on its spine provides the record of treatment for fifty-nine patients treated at the Rochester State Hospital between 1892 and 1895 for non-psychiatric disorders. The majority of patients are women, and the majority of these suffering from gynecologic disorders. A patient name index is provided on pages 3-4. Pages 114-124 list patients who were vaccinated for smallpox in 1893 and 1894.
2.3. PRESCRIPTION RECORDS
These three volumes record the medication of patients at the Rochester State Hospital between July 1890 and June 1898. The printed form on each page of these ledgers provides the patient’s name, the name of the drug administered, and the dates on which medication began and ended. Each patient’s prescription record was entered into a ledger on the date on which his or her first prescription was ordered. An index of patient names is found at the beginning of each volume. Only 59 of the 504 pages in Vol. 3 were filled, suggesting that prescription records were maintained in a different format after June 1898.
2.4. PHYSICIANS’ DAILY REPORTS
The Physicians Daily Reports are a daily record of conditions on each ward. Only three volumes of reports dating from the mid-1890s have survived. Each of the two bound registers for Mens’ Wards 9-12 provide a two-page printed form for each day. The form includes a table specifying the number of patients in each ward, and within each ward the number of patients “employed,” “idle,” etc.. Space is also provided for recording the names of patients admitted, “removed,” deceased, discharged, etc.; the names of patients receiving “special treatment” (i.e., “baths, electricity, massage, etc.”; the names of patients having “accidents, casualties, escapes and seclusion”; comments on “neglect, abuse, misbehaviour, inefficiency of employees”; “complaints of food”; repairs needed, and other remarks.
The volume of daily reports for Ward 4 differs in format from the volumes previously described. It is actually a diary for 1896, each page of which is headed with the date. On this single page the reporting physician recorded the condition and activity of each ward without benefit of the printed headings provided in the earlier two volumes of ward reports. The nature of the information provided in this volume is therefore less structured.
2.5. NIGHT ATTENDANTS REPORTS
The bulk of this incomplete set of daily ward reports compiled by night attendants spans the years 1893-1895. Each volume is identical in format, providing a single printed page for each day’s report. The reports list each patient’s name and provide an hourly record of his or her status between 9:00 PM and 6:00 AM. A code sheet pasted to the one of the preliminary leaves of each volume allowed the attendant to record hourly such conditions as A (awake), N (noisy), WC (wet, changed), etc. The final column allowed the night attendant to enter any additional remarks.
2.6. AUTOPSY RECORD, VOL. I
This sole surviving volume of autopsy records of patients at the Rochester State Hospital was compiled between September 20, 1891 and October 24, 1897. Each autopsy record includes the patient’s name, age, date of death, date autopsied, the physicians present at the autopsy, the cause of death and the state of the major organs at time of autopsy.
2.7. MISCELLANEOUS CLINICAL RECORDS
These five boxes of documents (removed from their original binders) contain six distinct subseries: 1.) Notes of visitation by inspectors from the State Commision in Lunacy (1904-1934), which include patient information; 2.) Lists of patients examined by the Medical Inspector of the State Hospital Commission [later: the Department of Mental Hygiene] (1916-1933); 3.) Medical staff meetings (1903-1912, 1917-1922) at which patients were presented and discussed; 4.) a survey of alien and foreign born patients conducted in 1921; 5.) Out-patient case histories (form headed: “Statistical Record – Clinic Case”) compiled between 1922 and 1932; 6.) Monthly statistical reports of the Psychiatric Social Service department of the Rochester State Hospital (1931-1944).
2.8 OPERATING ROOM RECORD BOOKS
The four boxes of operating room records contain eighteen volumes that record surgical operations, laboratory work (e.g., blood specimens, spinal taps), inoculation programs (typhoid, smallpox, diphtheria) and other procedures performed on the patient population between 1902 and 1945.
3.1. BOARD OF MANAGERS
Minutes of the Board of Managers and Board of Visitors, 1891-1934
This bound volume contains minutes of the meetings of the Board of Managers for the Rochester State Hospital from its first meeting on June 9, 1891 (three weeks before the transfer of the Monroe County Insane Asylum to the State of New York) to December 5, 1934. Discussion of all manner of business is recorded in the minutes. The minutes through 1912 are more detailed in this regard than those entered after this date. Beginning on February 9, 1927, the minutes are entered as those of the Board of Visitors, the name accorded the Board of Managers at this time
Board of Managers. Meetings & Reports
These two boxes contain two subseries of documents that were originally filed in chronological order in leather-covered binders labelled “Board of Managers. Meetings & Reports.” Due to the deteriorated condition of these binders, the documents they contained have been removed to acid-free folders. The original chronological order has been retained.
The first of these two subseries consists of the Superintendent’s monthly reports to the Board of Managers; the minutes of the monthly meetings of the Board of Managers; inspection reports from the Board of Visitation (later named the Board of Visitors) to the Governor and State Commission in Lunacy; and record of inspections by the Board of Managers. These documents span the years 1905-1916, 1923-1928.
The second box in this subseries consists of five folders containing printed forms headed “Superintendent’s Report on Medical Officers.” These multi-page reports were filled out in the handwriting of Superintendent Eugene H. Howard, M.D. and record evaluations of the medical staff at the Rochester State Hospital. They are arranged chronologically rather than by physician’s name, and span the years 1900-1917.
Rochester State Hospital. Manager
This bound volume is labelled on its spine “Reports / Rochester State Hospital / No. 27 / Manager.” Only 76 of its 505 pages have been utilized. Pasted onto its first pages is a disbound twenty-one page printed document containing the “By-laws of the Board of Managers and resident officers” (specifying the duties of the Board, superintendent, assistant physicians, “Woman Physician,” steward & matron); “Rules and regulations governing assistants in charge of departments” (e.g., the boiler house, kitchen, bakery, laundry, farm, etc.); “Rules and regulations governing attendants”; “Rules governing the employment of attendants”; and “Regulations for visiting.” The remaining pages contain the minutes or reports of several committees that met and/or submitted reports to the Board of Managers between 1891 and 1894, e.g., the Committee to Attend the Meeting of Managers at Binghamton State Hospital; the Committee on Compensation of Attendants, etc.
3.2. INSPECTION REPORTS
Minutes of Inspection by State Commissioners in Lunacy, 1889-1910
A log of visits made by the State Commissioners that records observations on the condition of equipment, buildings, wards, the farm, etc. and recommendations for their improvement. On many occasions patients were also examined by the Commissioners, though little is said in this volume regarding the outcome of these examinations. More detailed records of the examination of patients by inspectors from the State Commission in Lunacy and the State Hospital Commission between 1904 and 1934 are contained in: 2.7. Miscellaneous Clinical Records, Box 1.
Board of Managers’ Inspection Log, 1891-1948
The report of monthly visits by a designated member of the Board of Managers are entered in this volume. Between August 1891 and July 1903, the visiting Board member comments on the conditions of wards, buildings, kitchens, patient activities, etc., and often makes casual observations on life within the asylum not found in the more formal reports of the State Commissioners or Hospital medical staff. No entries were made in this log for 1904. The entries made between May 1905 and January 1948 record simply the date of inspection and the name(s) of the visiting Board member(s).
A chronologically arranged file of fifteen years of inspection reports by medical and senior staff on the condition of patient wards; day rooms; treatment rooms (e.g., hydrotherapy & sun rooms); bathrooms; kitchen & dining rooms; sewing rooms; store rooms; basements, corridors, & attics; the Nurses Home; farm buildings, etc. Each report bears the inspecting physician’s signature. Inspection reports also appear throughout the Miscellaneous Documents subseries. It is unclear why these particular inspection reports were filed separately. Among the records of the Monroe County Insane Asylum is an inspection log spanning the period Aug. 12, 1890-Mar. 12, 1892. The final third of this ledger was compiled after the transfer of the county asylum to the State of New York.
3.3. LETTER COPY BOOK
A “Japanese Letter Copying Book” (the process is described on a label attached to the front pastedown) containing correspondence signed by Supt. Eugene H. Howard, M.D. dated July 1892 through September 1893. The correspondence is numbered 1-990. The numbering does not correspond to the numbering of documents in: 3.4. Miscellaneous Records, Box 1, Nos. 1-99 (1890-1895). This copy book represents correspondence not present elsewhere in the collection. The content ranges over a wide variety of topics. The copies are preceded by an alphabetical index of correspondents.
The Miscellaneous Document subseries encompasses the wide variety of documents that passed through the office of the Superintendent of the Rochester State Hospital, who managed virtually all aspects of the institution’s operation. The broad range of documents in this subseries includes: offprints of State legislative documents pertaining to State psychiatric hospitals; correspondence between the Superintendent and the State Commission in Lunacy regarding admission & discharge policies, the transfer of patients, patient treatment, staff employment & remuneration, etc.; correspondence with the State Hospital Commission; correspondence with officers of other State, out-of-state and private mental institutions; correspondence to or from private individuals regarding family members committed or about to be committed to the State Hospital; correspondence and documents related to the Training School for Nurses (see also: Series 4. Training School for Nurses, Boxes 65-66); correspondence with the State Controller’s Office; statements of expenditure & other financial documents; typescript copies of annual reports; correspondence to, from, or regarding new and prospective employees; employee applications, contracts and resignations; correspondence with the office of the State Architect; correspondence & specifications with architects, engineers and contractors for buildings and equipment maintained by the State Hospital (see also: 3.7. Contracts & Specifications, Boxes 58A-61); the inspection of facilities by medical staff (see also: 3.2. Inspection Reports, Box 54-A); matrons’ reports; bids and purchase orders for equipment, supplies, foodstuffs, fuel, etc. (see also: 3.6. Committee on Joint Purchase of Supplies, Boxes 55-58); circulars & advertisements from vendors and manufacturers of equipment and supplies; and other documents.
As each document was processed in the Superintendent’s office, it was numbered and placed in a two-ring leather binder. The leather binders were stamped “Miscellaneous Documents” on their spines. The complete deterioration of these binders necessitated the transfer of their contents to acid-free folders and document boxes. The documents are still arranged by original document number, an arrangement which approximates chronological order, although some documents were numbered and filed a year or more after their actual dating.
3.5. MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS (Alternative Series)
The content of this subseries is identical to that of the Miscellaneous Documents described in subseries 3.4. These documents, however, have a different numeration and dating than that of the previous subseries. The reason for this parallel or alternative numeration for the Miscellaneous Documents has yet to be determined. The “alternative series” may be a continuation of a numerical series already in place when the Monroe County Insane Asylum became the Rochester State Hospital in 1891. That series, if it indeed existed, has not survived.
The Committee on Joint Purchase of Supplies was formed under the aegis of the State Commission on Lunacy to coordinate the purchase of supplies for distribution among the psychiatric hospitals operated by the State of New York. This subseries includes correspondence between the chairman, stewards and superintendents of the various hospitals; lists of bids & contracts awarded suppliers; sample-testing results; minutes of the Committee’s periodic meetings, etc. The documents in this subseries span the years 1903-1911. An extensive number of Committee documents are also filed in Miscellaneous Document subseries 3.4 and 3.5. The two-ring leather binders from which these documents were removed were labelled “Committee Letters” on their spines. At some point in time between 1912 and 1917, the Committee’s duties were assumed by the Purchasing Committee for State Hospitals under the aegis of the State Hospital Commission. Material generated by this committee between 1918 and 1921 is filed in Box 58, Folders 2-9.
This suberseries contains contracts between the State of New York and outside vendors for the construction of buildings, the installation or replacement of systems & machinery, etc. Printed State specifications accompany most contracts. This subseries is arranged chronologically and spans the years 1891-1895 and 1901-1913. Contracts & specifications are also filed throughout Miscellaneous Documents subseries 3.4 and 3.5. Box 61, Folders 3-5 contains time & salary records for attendants, laundresses, laborers, etc. for the year 1912.
3.8. STATE COMMISSION IN LUNACY: LETTERS & STATE HOSPITAL COMMISSION: CIRCULAR LETTERS
This subseries consists of two correspondence files. The first comprises letters dated 1908-1909 to State Hospital superintendents (or to E.H. Howard specifically) from the State Commission in Lunacy. These letters were numbered 400-799 in Howard’s files. The two-ring leather binders in which these documents were originally filed were labelled “Commission’s Letters” on their spines. Other Commission letters are filed among Miscellaneous Documents subseries 3.4 and 3.5.
The second correspondence file in this subseries comprises circular letters from the secretary of the State Hospital Commission to hospital superintendents generally or to E.H. Howard specifically. They were numbered 94000-95835 by Howard’s office and are dated Jan 1918-Apr 1927. This numeration/dating scheme partly corresponds to the numeration and dating of Miscellaneous Documents subseries 3.4, but also in part duplicates that numbering (see 3.4. Miscellaneous Documents, Boxes 43-44). For this reason and because the two-ring leather binders in which these documents were filed were labelled “Commission’s Circular Letters,” these letters have remained a distinct subseries. Other circular letters are filed in Miscellaneous Documents subseries 3.4 and 3.5.
3.9. INVENTORY OF PROPERTY, 1891-1893
The heading on page 1 reads: “Inventory of the property of Monroe County Insane Asylum taken in accordance with the requirements of Section 9. Chapter 335. Laws of 1891. An Act for the conversion of Monroe County Insane Asylum into the Rochester State Hospital.” This ledger provides a detailed inventory (with appraisals of value) of the content of staff rooms, waiting rooms, patient wards, kitchens, storage rooms, boiler rooms, shops & work rooms, barns, etc. The inventory was conducted between 1891 and 1893.
3.10 TREASURER’S RECORDS
Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Board of Managers, 1891-1896; & Reports of the Committee on Treasurer’s Accounts, 1899-1902.
Ostensibly the minutes of the monthly meetings of the Executive Committee of the Board of Managers of the Rochester State Hospital, this bound volume is actually a medium for presenting the institution’s accounts for monthly audit. The Executive Committee’s “minutes” extend from July 3, 1891 (two days after New York State assumed operation of the Monroe County Insane Asylum) to June 5, 1896. They include “General Fund Vouchers” presented by the Superintendent, which are often entered separately in this volume under their own heading. There is only one entry for 1897 and none for 1898. Beginning in January 1899, this volume was used to enter the quarterly reports of the Committee on Treasurer’s Accounts to the Board of Managers. The Committee’s final report is dated March 31, 1902. The Committee’s quarterly reports from October 1891 through January 1899 are recorded in a separate volume (see next item).
Committee on Treasurer’s Accounts
Quarterly reports of the committee entered October 20, 1891 through January 17, 1899. The Committee reports from January 1899 to March 1902 were entered at the end of the volume containing the Minutes of the Executive Committee of the Board of Managers (see previous item).
Treasurer’s Ledger, 1901-1903
This ledger records monthly expenditures for salaries, patient reimbursement, provisions & stores, repairs, farm & grounds maintenance, furniture & bedding, clothing, etc. for the years 1901-1903.
Reimbursing Patients Journal, 1903-1945
3.11. FARM ACCOUNTS, 1918-1946
There are two ledgers recording accounts for the farm operated by the Rochester State Hospital between 1918 and 1946. One ledger is records credits and the other debits.
3.12. EMPLOYEE RECORDS
Minutes of the Meetings of the Board of Examiners, 1891-1929.
The Board of Examiners was established in September 1891. Comprised of physicians and senior administrative staff, the Board’s purpose was to examine non-professional staff (largely attendants) “according to the rules and regulations of the Civil Service” established by the State of New York, and to award certificates to those who passed. The earliest Board meeting is dated September 11,1891, and the latest July 29, 1929. An employee name index was compiled on pages 280-286 of this volume.
Monthly time book, April 1897-October 1898
A ledger ordered chronologically by month indicating the employee’s name and days worked during the course of the month.
Employment Agreements, ca. 1892-1897
This ledger contains signed contracts of employment indicating dates of service, “promotions” (i.e., salary increases), comments on performance, etc. Included are agreements for ward attendants, office clerks, engineers, teamsters, gardeners, launderers, kitchen workers, etc. By far the greatest number of agreements, however, are those signed by nurses, most of whom appear to have been enrolled before and after graduation from the Training School. A large number of these graduate nurses are males.
Box 65, Folders 1-5 contain a document entitled “Training Schools of New York State Hospitals.” This 409-page document consists of extracts on the training of nurses from the annual reports of the State Commision on Lunacy and State Education Committee, as well as minutes of the Training School Committee extracted from the State Hospital Bulletin for the years 1889-1914. The extracts provide a composite picture of twenty-five years of nursing education within the State Hospital system.
The remainder of this brief subseries is arranged chronologically and includes minutes of the quarterly conference on training schools; correspondence to or from E.H. Howard, chairman of the Committee on Nursing through the mid-1920s; applications for accreditation; State legislation pertaining to training schools; curricular data; reports of the Committee on Nursing; reports generated by other State bodies; and correspondence from the State Hospital Commission, the University of the State of New York, the State Board of Nurses Examiners, the Dept. of Mental Hygiene, etc. This small but intensely interesting subseries spans the years 1915-1959. Additional information on individuals who were enrolled in the Training School and employed in the State Hospital is contained in the bound volume of employment agreements dating ca. 1892-1897 (see 3.12. Employment agreements, ca. 1892-1897).