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Mental Health Records at the Archives & Library of the Ohio History Connection

Getting Started

Columbus State Hospital, ca. 1877


Getting Started

To find records for a patient of an Ohio State Hospital it is helpful to know the following information:

  • Patient name (and alternative spellings of name)

  • Patient birth date

  • Patient date and place of death. Did the patient die in the hospital?

  • Hospital admission date

  • Name of the State Hospital

Patient 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.

Patient birth date: This may be helpful to differentiate between patients with common names.  

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

Hospital 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 hospital or institute.

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

What Records DOES OHC have?


What records do we have?

The records we hold vary by hospital. The list of collections we search to complete a research request is listed for each State Hospital.  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.

To learn what additional archival collections we hold for each hospital, enter the name of the hospital in quotation marks in the Archives catalog: https://aspace.ohiohistory.org/ 

 

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 facilities or the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services. 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 hospital to hospital. None of the collections contain a full medical history case file. The records we received relate primarily to patient information. We did not receive records of those employed at state facilities.

Records Restriction & Access


Records Restriction & Access

Mental Health records in the collections of the Ohio History Connection are restricted by state law. Ohio law states that the closest living relative of a deceased patient is allowed to request information from mental health facility records held by the Ohio History Connection, or by anyone if the patient has been deceased for fifty or more years (see: ORC 5122.31 Confidentiality). The restricted 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 requested form.

General Mental Health Research


General Mental Health Research

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

  • Search the Online Collections Catalog using the name of the State Hospital (ex: Athens State Hospital).

  • Some of the records you may find will include: architectural drawings, superintendent's correspondence, photographs, periodicals and annual reports. 

  • You can also search for the administrative agencies that provided oversight to the facilities (ex: Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Correction).

Online Collection Catalog for Print Material


Academic Research Projects


Academic Research Projects

Researchers interested in original scholarly research using Ohio’s institutional records can apply to the Ohio Department of Mental Health's  Office of Legal and Regulatory Services (Legal.MHAS@mha.ohio.gov) for approval of a research project and access to specific mental health records in our holdings.

We will need an official letter from the Office of Legal and Regulatory Services granting you permission to review restricted collections held by the Ohio History Connection. It should specify the exact collection(s) you wish to review during your research visit. We will not be able to make reproductions of any kind from the patient records.