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Developmental Disabilities Records at the Archives & Library of the Ohio History Connection

Getting Started

Ohio Hospital for Epileptics, East Hall

Getting Started

According to the Center for Disease Control and Convention (CDC), Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person's lifetime. The records that OHC's holds were originally kept by individual institutes and the institutes were overseen by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.

To find records for a resident of a State Institute, it is helpful to know the following information:

  • Resident's name (and alternative spellings of name)

  • Resident's birth date

  • Resident's date and place of death. Did the resident die in the facility?

  • Admission date

  • Name of the State Institute

Resident's name: The name at the time of admission. For women, this may include maiden name as well as a married name. Also, have a few variations of spelling for the name. Many of the records are handwritten and names may be misspelled or transcribed incorrectly.

Resident's birth date: This may be helpful to differentiate between residents with common names.  

Resident's date and place of death: This will let you know if the patient died in the state institute. Death certificates in the state of Ohio record where the death occurred, and may record how long the person was a resident at that location.

Admission date: Not all records have alphabetic indexes; some of the records are arranged by admission date. If you do not know the exact date, an approximate time period will be helpful. Census records may help you find out when someone was in the state institute.

Name of the State Institute: We do not have a comprehensive index to developmental disabilities records in our collections. Census records may help you identify the Institute where a person was a resident.

What Records DOES OHC have?

What records do we have?

The records we hold vary by facility. Check the list of records for each State Institute. Each title is linked to its catalog record. The Scope and Content section of the catalog record describes what information to expect from the record. All restricted collections include a restriction notice in their catalog record.

What Records DOES OHC NOT hold?

What records do we not have?  

The Ohio History Connection holds records that were transferred to us by the state institutes or by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities. We do not have complete records from all of Ohio’s state institutes. Many records were destroyed due to retention schedules designed to ensure patient privacy. Some were lost to other hazards. Our records vary greatly from facility to facility. None of the collections contain a full medical history case file. The records we received relate primarily to resident information. We did not receive records of those employed at state facilities.

Records Restriction & Access

Records Restriction & Access

Developmental Disabilities records in the collections of the Ohio History Connection are restricted by state law. Ohio law states that only the closest living relative of a deceased resident is allowed to request information from developmental disabilities facility records held by the Ohio History Connection (see: ORC 5123.31 Confidentiality). The record books and files are restricted from public review, even by the closest living relative. Persons requesting records from those collections must complete and submit a signed research request form.

General Developmental Disabilities Research

General Developmental Disabilities Research

If you are doing general (non-individual specific) research into Ohio’s developmental disabilities facilities, here are some search tips: 

  • Search the Catalog using the name of the State Institute (ex: Orient State Institute).

  • Some of the records you may find will include: aerial photographs, periodicals and annual reports. 

  • You can also search for the administrative agency that provided oversight to the facilities (the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities).

  • Restricted records are not available for research.

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