28 June 2010

Reasons for admission to a Mental Asylum

In family history research, we often find that someone 'vanished'. If a death certificate cannot be found around that time, or if children were raised by someone other than a parent, it is a good idea to check mental asylum records. Reasons for admission included epilepsy, depression (especially post-natal depression), alcoholism, head injury, syphilis, and congenital defects.

Many people spent only a short time in an asylum, and descendants may be unaware of that; so I recommend checking the indexes even if you have no reason to suspect that a person may have been in an asylum.

Names of thousands of patients in Queensland mental asylums (including many people who had previously been in asylums interstate or in the UK) are on my Web site. Most names are from insanity files or asylum case books. To order photocopies of the original records, follow the instructions at the bottom of each page.

(On 6 Nov 2010 I updated this article to show links to two Web sites.)


  1. You are so right! My great great grandfather was looking after the children in the 1891 census, while his wife was nowhere to be found; then she was in the 1901 census, and he was nowhere to be found. Until I found them! in the county Lunatic Asylum at varying times (and I have been fortunate enough to acquire their patient records). She was in there for 'thinking everyone is against her' and 'her room is all in disorder'!

  2. We had an ancestor committed to an asylum for what is now known as post menopause depression.
    In researching this I found the interesting reason for being commited there was: failure to do housework!

  3. I've seen the same thing in the U. S. My g-g-g-grandfather ended up in the state asylum after having a stroke. He was missing from records for many years, until I discovered a pension application filed by his third wife. A letter from the director of the asylum provided his death date.

    Good post!

  4. Thanks for those comments. I have now updated this article to show links to two Web sites with names from insanity files and mental asylum case books.

  5. This is a great suggestion! I think you may have lead me to what I have been waiting to hear.

    1. Janett, I will be delighted if my suggestion about mental asylum records has helped you to solve a genealogical puzzle.


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