Records at Evansville State Hospital
When the Evansville State Hospital opened in 1890, it was first named Southern Indiana Hospital for the Insane, known as “Woodmere,” and served counties in southwestern Indiana. A fire in 1943 closed the hospital, and all the medical records were destroyed. The hospital re-opened in 1945. For information on patients admitted before the fire, the Indiana State Archives maintains an index with limited patient information.
Relatives requesting copies of medical records for genealogy purposes may contact A. Denise Lowenhaupt at 812-469-6800 ext. 4936 or email request to Audrey.Lowenhaupt@fssa.in.gov. You will be asked to complete an “Authorization for Release of Information” form, provide a copy of a state-issued photo ID, and provide proof of the relationship by birth certificates and death certificates.
Records from Other State Psychiatric Hospitals
At one time, there were 13 state facilities in operation; currently, there are six remaining. Many record collections from the closed hospitals and institutions were kept and sent to Indiana State Archives for permanent storage. There were 300,000 patients admitted to Indiana’s state mental hospitals and developmental centers between 1848 and June 2008. Researchers should familiarize themselves with the different state facilities and the geographical areas they served.
The medical records may contain psychiatric assessments, mental status, history and physicals, diagnoses, psychological evaluations, immunization records, family history, photos, birth certificate, and death certificate. In a few cases, records may contain obituaries and burial records. Some records may only contain the master patient index card containing basic primary admission data.
Index to Patients Discharged from State Hospitals from 1890-1986
The index created by the Board of State Charities was established in 1889. This board collected information from all Public Welfare areas in Indiana, including persons in state hospitals and correctional facilities.
The index cards contain admission and discharge dates, hospital name, patient hospital number, diagnosis, county of residence, date, and birthplace. Some contain a maiden name, parents, siblings, and aunt or uncle names. This index is usually the only source for information on patients admitted to Evansville State Hospital before 1943. Access to this index, which has been microfilmed, is through staff at the Indiana State Archives due to confidentiality reasons.
Genealogy information may also be obtained by calling the Indiana Archives and Records Administration at 317-591-5326 or visit their website by clicking here for more information.