Australia Research Guide | Hospitals, Infirm & Destitute Asylums
Although not ideal for the ancestor, learning that an ancestor was hospitalised is valuable to the family history researcher since hospital, and infirm and destitute asylum, records may offer a wealth of information.
Many of the following details may be found in early hospital records:
The public health system served not just the sick but also the destitute and infirm. Australia’s earliest charity, The Benevolent Society, established the first asylum for the destitute, blind, elderly, and infirm in 1821. The early destitute and asylum records provide a wealth of fascinating information, such as:
How can I find hospital and asylum records?
State archives and record offices hold many public hospital and asylum records, particularly those which have closed. Hospitals may also have an archive or museum that holds records, although it is good to note that hospitals, like many institutions, have been established, closed, amalgamated, taken over, and changed names. As a result, knowledge of the hospital’s history may be required to identify available documents.
Patient records may be closed under Section 9 of the Public Records Act and they will not be released for 75 years after the creation of the records; however, in some cases, you can request records under Freedom of Information.
Pictured: Sydney, New South Wales, James Howe Carse (1819-1900) [a.k.a. J. Carr]