What do I need to know?
For patient records
- the asylum the person was a patient
- the year and rough date of admission
- their last name
If you are unsure of the asylum, try looking at the online master patient listings for each asylum from 1849-1885 linked below under About These Records.
How do I search?
Search for records from each institution and browse the results for terms like patient records or case books within a year range.
About these records
Up until the 1970s, people with serious mental illnesses or disabilities entered, or were committed to, institutions including asylums and receiving houses. Many of these were run by the State, which had assumed formal guardianship of the people in care. We hold archived records from institutions which are now closed.
Some name indexes are online and will give you information like the asylum name and date of admission. Most records are not digitised and you will need to visit the North Melbourne Reading Room.
1849 - 1885 digitised listing of patients
We have a digitised copy of a master list of patients for each asylum from 1849-1885. This may help you identify which asylum your relative may have been admitted. It will also offer the admission date which can then help you identify the case file close file Definition An accumulation of documents relating to the same subject, person, activity or transaction that are kept together. Documents in a file are usually, but not always, fastened together. Files are usually arranged in an identifiable sequence (e.g. numerical or alphabetical). for that patient.
What are in these records?
The level of detail in the records varies a lot depending on what was retained. In general, if we have patient records, you might find:
- the patient’s name
- the dates of their admission and discharge
- spouse’s name and profession
- who and why patient was admitted
- basic details of their history (age, place of birth, current residence)
- details of their illness or disability
- patient case books (one page or more of notes on patient)
- date of death (if they died in the asylum)
- some records include a photo (many don’t).
- Admission warrants
- Patient registers
In a few cases we have more detailed medical histories of patients.
You can view some names listed on the Alphabetical Register of Lunatics. Record Series (VPRS) 1706 online via this link on Ancestry.com.au
To view these records for free within Public Record Office Victoria Reading Rooms: Reading Room Access Only