Week 36 Hospital Records in 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2015

6 April 2015

This personal genealogy blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 – 2015 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks in 2014 but soon realised that I have to factor in travel and illness so it is continuing into 2015 from Week 26.

Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

Links to Weeks 1-25 are here. Week 26 School Records Week 27 Census Records Week 28 Tombstones Week 29 Military Records Week 30 Postcards Week 31 Photographs Week 32 Asylum Records Week 33 Church Records Week 34 Maps Week 35 Sporting Records

Week 36 Hospital Records

This week’s topic is hospital records and it is not an area where I have found a lot of information on my own families. However, if you are lucky enough to locate an ancestor in hospital records then you may find lots of interesting information. Like all government institutions hospitals were required to record biographical information about patients and sometimes this information can be really useful.

My great great grandfather Adam Johnston (also spelt Johnson and Johnstone) came out from County Cavan, Ireland and I believe that a number of his siblings and other relatives came out too. But with such a common surname and with variant spellings it was not easy to prove  this.

Brisbane General Hospital, George Street, ca 1865. Image courtesy Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 5830

Brisbane General Hospital, George Street, ca 1865. Image courtesy Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 5830

Fortunately Adam’s brother James was admitted to the Brisbane General Hospital in 1872 and again in 1873. The biographical information collected on admittance proved that James and Adam were brothers and that they had arrived together on the Mangerton in 1861.

What biographical information is recorded in hospital records? Name, age, father’s name and occupation, mother’s name including maiden surname, where born, married or single, occupation, length of time in colony, name of ship, last place of residence and religion. In addition, the date admitted, the doctor’s name, nature of illness, history of illness and date discharged.

In James’ example, I learnt that he was single, 30 years old, born in Ireland, Church of England, a labourer living at Oxley Creek, he arrived on the Mangerton 12 years ago  and that his father was James Johnson, a labourer and his mother was Sarah Machelwaine (another surname with many variants). James was suffering from chronic rheumatism.

Not all hospital records have survived and one place to look may be the state archives. In the example above the records are held by the Queensland State Archives along with some other hospital records. Judy Webster has indexed many of these records and her Queensland Hospital Admission Records for Genealogy is a good place to start for Queensland ancestors.

Hospital records may also be held by historical societies and/or genealogy or family history societies. For example, the Genealogical Society of Victoria has published on CD The Victorian Goldfields Hospital Index which covers eight hospitals including Amherst, Ballarat, Castlemaine, Creswick, Dunolly, Kyneton, Maldon and Maryborough. Another one of their publications is Patients in Melbourne Hospital 1856-1905.

Most of the surviving hospital records are for the 19th century and a portal site useful for locating hospital records is CoraWeb under the Asylums and Hospitals category.

Admission to a hospital may have been short, the result of an accident or an illness or may have even been a recurring event. If the records have survived and are indexed, then it might be worthwhile to check them out. You won’t know unless you look. Happy searching!

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  1. Thanks for this Shauna. My recent trip to Noel Butlin Archives made me realize how much stuff needs to be indexed. Union membership records for example – or has that been done already I wonder.

  2. Thanks for mentioning my indexes to Queensland’s hospital records. I’ve spent many, many years working on them!

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