We hold records from many public hospitals and asylums documenting the treatment of patients as well as how those institutions were run. Many of these records contain interesting details about individuals and institutions.
We do not hold records of non-government (privately-run) institutions, such as the Freemasons Hospital. If you are interested in patient records for these institutions, you can contact the organisation direct. Most of the records we hold are from institutions which are now closed. We do hold some historic records for hospitals still operating e.g. Royal Women’s Hospital.
What do I need to know before I start?
If you are searching for a person it is helpful to know:
- their name
- the name(s) of the institution(s) they were treated at, and
- year and dates when they were treated.
Alternatively, you can search the records of a particular institution of interest to you.
As treatment information is private and personal, the clinical records that we hold of living people are generally closed under s9 of the Public Records Act 1973. If you are looking for your own records or those of a close relative you can request records under the Freedom of Information process.
The language used in these records can be distressing or offensive. The terms used to describe health (e.g. ‘lunatic’) reflect the attitudes of the time and may not represent current day understandings. We sometimes repeat these terms to accurately convey how the records can be accessed; this does not mean we endorse those past attitudes.
View online or at the Reading Room?
Look for the icons below to identify if records are viewable online (mouse over globe) or need to be ordered online and then viewed at our Reading Rooms (open book):
Look for these icons to: