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Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Pennsylvania State Archives


RG-23

Records of the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WELFARE

Series Descriptions

Retreat State Hospital

The Central Poor District was first set up in 1860 by an act of the State Legislature and 146 acres of land were subsequently purchased for the purpose of erecting buildings for the care of the poor. This land was located in Newport Township, Luzerne County along the banks of the Susquehanna River and about 14 miles from Wilkes-Barre. Outdoor pavilions were established to care for the poor on this land until 1878 when a need was seen for additional space and more permanent facilities. A Female Ward was erected in 1878, a Male Ward in1884, and an addition was added to the Male Ward in 1895. Together, these comprised the Luzerne County Almshouse. By 1890, the District took on the responsibility of caring for mentally ill patients and in 1900 the new Hospital for the Insane opened its door at the site. Sometime between 1921 and 1926 the name was changed to Retreat Mental Hospital, although it was still governed by the Central Poor District of Luzerne County. By an Act of the Legislature in 1937 the haphazard system of Poor Districts was abolished, and County Institution Districts were set up. Though County Commissioners assumed control of poor and indigent sick relief in the counties, management of individual institutions remained the same. In accordance with an act of 1938 requiring the state to take over all institutions for the care of the mentally ill, Retreat came under state control on September 16, 1943. The Almshouse buildings, whose functions had been superseded by Federal and State relief programs during the Depression, were emptied in 1945 and remodeled into patient dormitories. The Retreat State Hospital was closed in 1980 as a result of decreases in the patient population and cutbacks in the overall budget of the Department of Welfare.

Admission Registers,

1900-1980.

(2 volumes)

{series #23.288} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged alphabetically by first letter of surname and thereunder numerically by case numbers assigned chronologically by admission date.

Male and female admission registers for Retreat State Hospital. Information given is the patient's name, case number, date of admission, whether privately or publicly supported, and the date of discharge or death. More detailed admission information will be found in the General Registers, 1900-1968 {series #23.293}.

Annual Reports,

1902-1921, 1924, 1926-1936, 1944-1949.

(42 volumes, 3 folders)

{series #23.290}

Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Annual Reports of the Retreat State Hospital and its predecessors can be separated into two sections. From 1902-1921, 1924, 1926-1936 there are the Annual Reports of the Board of Directors from the Central Poor District of Luzerne County and from 1927-1936 and 1944 to 1949 there are reports from the Superintendent of Retreat State Hospital. These reports all contain the same type of information. The patient population is broken down by gender, age, race, education, type of illness, cause of destitution, and whether their condition had improved. Other information about the hospital includes documentation on the quantities produced on the farm and in the workrooms, the quantities of food and other produce consumed on site, the number of employees and their salaries, and photographs of the facility.

Biennial Reports of the Board of Trustees,

1948-1964.

(4 folders)

{series #23.291}

Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Biennial reports documenting the names of the members of the Board of the Trustees, officers, and consulting staff and providing information on personnel, conditions prevailing in the Hospital, patient activities and entertainment, treatment programs, and departmental reports. Also found are population tables giving information on diagnoses, nativity of patients and their mothers, citizenship status, economic condition, marital status, degree of education, use of alcoholic beverages, religious affiliation, causes of death, types of psychoses, ages and the length at hospital residency for deceased patients.

Cash Receipts,

1930-1941.

(7 folders)

{series #23.292}

Arranged chronologically by date of receipt.

A record of cash receipts for the Retreat State Hospital. Information found includes the date payment was received, the form of payment, the patient's name, the name of the person making the payment, the amount of the payment, and a brief description of the transaction. From June 1939 an individual printed receipt replaced the earlier report form but the information found is identical.

General Registers,

1900-1968.

(2 volumes)

{series #23.293} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of admission.

General admission and discharge registers providing more detailed information about each patient than the Admission Registers, 1900-1980 {series #23.288}. General Register entries may show in addition to the patient's name and register number, any former register numbers, the patient's age, country of birth, country of parents' birth, county of residence, occupation, legal status, gender, race, marital status, mental diagnosis, cause of illness, religious affiliation, educational level of the patient, admission date, source of support, name of the person by whom committed, citizenship status, duration and number of attacks, and the date and reason for discharge or death. Men and women are listed separately.

Historical File,

1900-1978.

(13 folders)

{series #23.294}

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

This series contains the original admissions list of July 1900, memoranda and programs relating to the hospital's centennial, and miscellaneous court papers, petitions, appointments and reports of investigative commissions, and commitment orders from the 1920s and 1930s. Also present is a 1902 guide to the Pennsylvania laws governing the Central Poor District and its institutions, drafts of a history of the hospital, several issues of the Retreat State Hospital newsletter Riverview Echo, two aerial photographs of the buildings and the farm and correspondence concerning flood damage to the bridge, closing of the post office, the railroad station, the hospital school, the water supply, and to land sales, fires, renovations conducted on the farm.

Minutes of the Board of Trustees,

1949-1980.

(1 volume, 10 folders)

{series #23.295}

Arranged chronologically by date of report.

Minutes of regular meetings of the board include the monthly report of the Superintendent of Retreat State Hospital and an account of any actions taken by the board. The reports describe projects underway, production at the hospital farm; visits by authorities from the Department of Public Welfare and mandates issued by the Department, patient activities, auditor reports, and attempts to resolve persistent problems of budgeting, staffing, and over-crowding.

Payroll Books,

1930-1942.

(3 volumes)

{series #23.296)

Arranged chronologically by month.

Payroll books documenting salaries and wages paid to employees at the Retreat State Hospital. Information is found on salary increases and staffing changes over the years and generally gives the employee's name and position, the number of days worked and the amount paid per month, and any deduction withheld.

Photographs,

1950-1972, 1975, 1979.

(5 boxes, 5 folders)

{series #23.297}

Grouped by subject.

Color photographs taken by staff photographers of activities at the Retreat State Hospital. Views include staff and patients participating in carnivals, Christmas activities, civil defense and disaster drills, construction projects, Mental Health Week, patient therapy, volunteer recognition events and miscellaneous unidentified events.

Scrapbooks,

1956-1980.

(6 volumes)

{series #23.298}

Arranged chronologically by date of news clipping.

Newspaper clippings and other items and programs that have been pasted into scrapbooks. Topics include staff and patient activities, volunteer activities, and news concerning the budget, renovations, and plans for closing the facility.

Slides,

1961-1968, 1975.

(3 slide cases)

{series #23.299}

Arranged chronologically by date and thereunder by subject.

Color slides taken by staff photographers of activities at Retreat State Hospital. Views include staff and patients participating in carnivals, Christmas activities, civil defense and disaster drills, construction projects, Mental Health Week, patient therapy, volunteer recognition events and miscellaneous unidentified events.

Warren State Hospital

Construction of Pennsylvania's third state mental institution, the State Hospital for the Insane at Warren, was authorized by an Act of the Legislature approved on August 14, 1873, (P. L. 333) and the cornerstone for the Center Building was laid on September 10, 1874. An Act of Legislature, (P L. 83) approved on June 8, 1881 formally organized the hospital which admitted its first patient on December 5, 1880. In 1920, the name of the institution was officially changed to the Warren State Hospital and as of 1998 it is still in operation.

Address Book,

1924.

(1 volume)

{series #23.300}

Unarranged.

A list of the addresses of organizations and individuals who received mailings from Warren State Hospital. Information given about each recipient is their name and mailing address. Mailings sent included the Biennial Report (including accompanying revisions in 1924, 1939 and 1948) and Medical Notes in 1935. Some of the recipients listed were members of the Warren State Hospital Board of Trustees, the Department of Public Welfare, the Physicians Hospital District, the Medical Society of Pennsylvania, various libraries and private institutions, Boards of Control, the Board of Commissioners of State Institutions, and County Commissioners.

Death, Discharge and Parole Books,

1945-1972.

(22 volumes)

{series #23.301} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of death, discharge or parole.

Record books documenting patients released from the hospital due to death, discharge, or parole. Information provided includes the patient's name, case number, date of birth, and date of death, discharge, or parole. The last volume contains a list of the names of physicians who completed their residency at Warren State Hospital between 1912 and 1968. The information given generally includes the physician's name, the dates of service at the hospital, the medical school attended and where they went after completing their residency.

Document Record Book,

[ca. 1873-1919].

(1 volume)

{series #23.302}

Unarranged.

Administrative record book of the State Hospital for the Insane at Warren, including a copy of the "organic law" creating the hospital, the hospital by-laws and amendments, and rules and regulations governing all facets of administration, patient treatment, and financial arrangements. Also present are copies of agreements, oil leases, deeds and conveyances, and drafts of surveys.

Female Admission Books,

1883-1910.

(2 volumes)

{series #23.303} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of admission.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of patient.

Record books of admissions of female patients to Warren State Hospital. Information given includes about the patient's name, date of admission, a brief narrative statement of the circumstances under which she was admitted, and a brief diagnostic statement on her condition.

Female Case Books,

[ca. 1883-1913.]

(17 volumes)

{series #23.304} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of admission.

Indexed externally, alphabetically by surname of patient in the Index to Female Case Books, [ca. 1883-1913] {series #23.306}.

Case books documenting the medical history of female patients from the time of their admission until the time of their release. They contain of a series of entries made on different dates charting the patients' progress but entries are not made regularly and primarily consist of observations rather than descriptions of treatments applied. Information generally includes the patient's name, age, marital status, native state and previous county of residence, date of admission, husband's occupation, and the presumed cause of illness. Other miscellaneous loose sheets are contained within the volumes, including correspondence from patients to their physicians and other supporting medical documentation.

Hospital Visiting Committee Journal,

1880-1890.

(1 volume)

{series #23.305}

Arranged chronologically by date of visit.

Journal documenting quarterly visits to Warren State Hospital by members of the Board of Trustees. The narrative descriptions of the visits generally give information regarding the condition of the male and female wards, the number of patients in each ward, inspection and condition reports of the grounds and the building, and financial summaries. Additional reports are contained in Trustee Minute Books, 1881-1969 {series #23.315}.

Index to Female Case Books,

[ca. 1883-1913].

(1 volume)

{series #23.306}

Arranged alphabetically by surname of patient.

A complete index to the Female Case Books, ca. 1883-1913 {#23.304}. Information given is the name of the patient and the volume and page number of the relevant Female Case Book where the patient's record may be found.

Index to Male Case Books,

[ca. 1883-1913].

(1 volume)

{series #23.307}

Arranged alphabetically by surname of patient.

A complete index to the Male Case Books, ca.1883-1913 {#23.309}. Information given is the name of the patient and volume and page number of relevant Male Case Book where the patient's record may be found.

Male Admission Books,

1883-1910.

(2 volumes)

{series #23.308} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of admission.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of patient.

Record books of the admission of male patients to Warren State Hospital. Information given includes the name of the patient, the date of admission, a brief narrative statement of the circumstances under which the patient was admitted, and a brief diagnostic statement on his condition.

Male Case Books,

[ca. 1883-1913].

(19 volumes)

{series #23.309} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of admission.

Indexed externally, alphabetically by surname of patient in the Index to Male Case Books, [ca. 1883-1913] {series #23.307}.

Case books documenting the history of male patients from the time of their admission until the time of their release. They contain of a series of entries made on different dates charting the patients' progress but the entries are not made regularly and primarily consist of observations rather than descriptions of treatments applied. Information generally includes the patient's name, age, marital status, state where born, county of residence, date of admission, and the presumed cause of illness.

Minute Books of the Association of Trustees and Superintendents of State Hospitals,

1903-1948.

(3 volumes)

{series #23.310}

Arranged chronologically.

Minute books documenting the meetings of the Association of Trustees and Superintendents of State Hospitals that consisted of the members of the Committee on Lunacy and Trustees and Medical Superintendents of the State and Incorporated Hospitals for the Insane of Pennsylvania and other individuals in relevant positions. The Association's objective was to benefit hospitals and their Superintendents by presenting relevant papers, promoting discussion of the topics covered by such papers, and by inspecting state hospitals. The meetings were held semi-annually in May and September at different hospitals. Information given about each meeting may include program outlines, topics of speeches delivered or the actual speech transcripts, the names of members and officers attending the meetings and of those who participated in the discussions, and an account of business conducted and officers elected.

Patient Record Books,

1907-1921, 1941-1959.

(3 volumes)

{series #23.311}

Arranged chronologically.

Monthly records of the patient population at Warren State Hospital. Information found generally includes the patient's name, date of admission, date of discharge, date of any leave of absence or leave extension and of return, and the case number. Also given is the total number of male and female patients hospitalized. This data is broken down into indigent and private wards and provides a monthly census of the total number of patients being treated.

Permission for Autopsy Record Books,

1912-1942.

(2 volumes)

{series #23.312}

The volume dated 1912-1940 is arranged by date of death and the volume dated ca. 1938-1942 is arranged alphabetically by patient's surname.

Records of permissions granted for autopsies. Some of the records are official signed forms authorizing the Warren State Hospital to conduct an autopsy while other records consist of handwritten notations in the book containing either official signatures or a listing of the names of persons who gave consent via telephone or telegraph. Information given generally includes the decedent's name, the name and address of the nearest relative or guardian, the date of death, and the name of the physician and of a witness. These records do not give information regarding the results of the autopsy.

Staff Leave Record Book,

1941-1951.

(1 volume)

{series #23.313}

Arranged chronologically.

Record book containing monthly record pf staff leave days and changes in personnel staffing over the period of ten years. Information found includes the name and position of each employee and the dates leave was taken.

Staff Meeting Minute Book,

1946-1947.

(1 volume)

{series #23.314} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of meeting.

Indexed internally, alphabetically by surname of patient.

Minute book of daily meetings conducted by a panel of doctors to discuss patient cases. All doctors who attended the meeting gave their opinions regarding observations, treatment, diagnosis, and the possibility of parole. The doctors' opinions sometimes differed. Information found may include the patient's name, age, county of previous residence, reason for the meeting (either diagnosis or parole), the circumstances surrounding the patient's admission to the hospital, observations made by staff while the patient was at the hospital, and any follow-up meetings.

Trustee Minute Books,

1881-1969.

(7 volumes)

{series #23.315}

Arranged chronologically by date of meeting.

Minutes of the quarterly meetings conducted by the Board of Trustees of Warren State Hospital. The minutes contain officer's reports, original resolutions, old and new business, the election of officers and the names of those attending the meeting. Topics addressed include administrative decisions, allocations of monetary resources including salaries paid to Hospital personnel, issues concerning the Hospital building and grounds, and various committee reports. The report of the Superintendent contains patient population information.

Woodville State Hospital

Originally founded as the Allegheny Hospital for the Insane in 1854, this institution did not come under state ownership until 1941. As one of the state's earliest mental hospitals, Woodville reflected of the influence of Thomas Kirkbride who advocated the use of one large structure to house both male and female patients who were segregated into blocks located to either side of a central administration building. His system of setback wings promoted maximum access of light and air to patient living areas. When the state took control of the hospital, alonmg with of all other county mental hospitals, in 1941 the Allegheny County Institutional District continued to manage the "poor" section of this facility. This arrangement continued until 1958 when the state assumed complete control of all administrative duties.

Account Book for Patients,

1974-1982.

(1 folder)

{series 23.316}

Arranged chronologically.

Annual record of discharges, deaths, and transfers of patients at Woodville State Hospital. The hardback bound books list each patient's name and number, and whether discharged, died or transferred. The patient's age, condition, gender and race are also frequently given.

Admission and Discharge Register,

1900-1962.

(1 volume)

{series 23.317} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically.

Register of admissions and discharges at the Woodville State Hospital from 1900-1941, 1913-1962. Information generally given is the patient's name, date of discharge or death, register number, residence, race, age, and marital status.

Admission Register for Woodville State Hospital,

1900-1912.

(1 volume)

{series 23.318} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of entry.

Register of patients admitted to the Woodville State Hospital giving each patient's admission number, name, date of admission, and date of discharge or death.

Admission Ledgers,

1984-1991.

(2 volumes)

{series 23.319} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of admission.

A record of patients admitted to the Woodville State giving each patient's name, admission number, admission date, the name of the hospital from which transferred, date of birth, diagnosis, date of discharge and remarks.

Allegheny County Home Admission and Discharge Register,

1984-1991.

(1 volume)

{series 23.320} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically.

Register of patient admissions and discharges at the Allegheny County Home (later Woodville State Hospital) from 1900-1969. The register lists the patient's name, register number, date of admittance, and date of discharge, parole, and of return where applicable.

Cemetery Diagram for the Allegheny County Home for the Insane and Tuberculosis,

1920.

(1 folder)

{series 23.321}

Arranged topically by institution and type of material.

This series contains a documentation of burial plot locations of deceased patients in the cemetery of the Allegheny County Home for the Insane and Tuberculosis Sanitarium. The diagram is dated 1920 and has a scale of 1" equal to 20'. Information appearing on the diagram reveals that this is a duplicate of a diagram held in the county engineer's office of the Allegheny County Court House. One hundred and ninety-six burial plots are labeled with their plot number and the name of the person buried there.

Discharge, Death and Transfer Books,

1942-1984.

(1 box)

{series 23.322}

Arranged chronologically.

Record books pertaining to the discharge, death, and transfer of Woodville State Hospital patients. Information given is the patient's number, name, and whether discharged, died or transferred. Age, condition, gender and race are also frequently noted.

Discharge Ledger,

1984-1989.

(1 volume)

{series 23.323} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically by date of discharge.

Record books of patients discharged from Woodville State Hospital. Information given is the patient's name, hospital number, age at discharge, the page number on which admission appears, a diagnostic statement, the date of discharge or death, the name of the institution to which the patient was discharged or the cause of death where applicable.

Floor Plan of Woodville State Hospital,

1965.

(1 folder)

{series 23.324}

Arranged by type of document.

This series documents the ground floor plan of the Woodville State Hospital and provides building and office dimensions and elevations. The drawing was made in 1965 by Triggs, Myers, McQuade, and Associates of Pittsburgh, PA.

Funeral Director Release Registers,

1951-1967.

(3 folders)

{series 23.325}

Arranged chronologically.

An annual record of removals/releases of deceased patients to funeral directors from the Woodville State Hospital. The register gives the names of deceased patients, the time and date of death, the location of death, the time and date the body was removed, the undertaker's name and address, and the signed authorization from a relative or guardian to remove the body from the hospital.

Log Listing Student Interns,

1959-1970.

(1 volume)

{series 23.326}

Unarranged.

Log book of the names of student interns at the Woodville State Hospital. The small hardback book lists the date each student worked and bears his/her initials.

Meeting Minutes of the Board of Trustees,

1971-1991.

(1 carton)

{series 23.327}

Arranged chronologically.

Minutes of meetings of the Board of Trustees of the Woodville State Hospital. Information given is the names of the members present and absent, the location of the meeting, the date of the meeting, and a summary of the discussion and the business transacted. Topics include board resignations and appointments, superintendent reports, patient employment, union contracts, budgets, lobbying and legislation, salaries, farm crops and agricultural activities, vehicles, the intensive care unit, diagnostic studies conducted, social work services, the Department of Health and Human Services, Dixmont State Hospital, the dietary department; a holiday shoebox dance, canteen and vending profits, patient elopement reports, a quality assurance study, monthly sick leave reports, financial reports, volunteer activities, by-laws and regulations of the board of trustees, patient census reports, employee retirements, annual board of trustee awards, and laundry services.

Meetings Minutes of the Executive Council,

1988-1991.

(3 cartons)

{series 23.328}

Arranged chronologically.

Minutes documenting meetings of the Executive Council of Woodville State Hospital. Information given is the names of the members present and absent, the time and date of the meeting and a summary of the discussion and of business transacted. Topics include patient abuse investigations, personnel services, water shortages, clinical services, social and rehabilitative services, volunteers, quality assurance risk management, patient elopements, escaped patients, employment vacancies, emergency communications, chaplaincy, recreation, occupational therapy, Medicare standards, nursing, social work, financial statements, abatement, monthly census reports, computer training bulletins, administrative services, employee health services, employment vacancies, the cost of drug prescriptions, computerized medical records, a laundry facility merger, a pre-trial settlement agreement pertaining to the discharge of patients from Philadelphia State Hospital, ward and institutional policies, community support, public welfare policy, smoking policy, employee health surveillance reports, regional employee meetings, overtime reports, accident reports, and budgets. Additional topics include living conditions and patients rights, standards for managing sick leave, policies regarding deaths, plans to house patients at South Mountain in Franklin County, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, deaf and hearing impaired patients, Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Newsletter (MMA), quality assurance/risk management, use of the drug Clozaril, clerical promotions, physicians hours per patient (1989-1990), labor relations, seclusion and restraint, patient advocate's reports, and long term care services.

Movement of Population Records for the Allegheny County Institution District,

1939-1940.

(1 folder)

{series 23.329}

Arranged chronologically.

A record of the population movements of mental patients in the Allegheny County Institutional District providing monthly population totals and the following population breakdowns: the number of patients in the hospital at the beginning of the month, the number of admissions during the month; the number transferred from other institutions, the number treated for the month, the total number discharged during the month, the total number improved, the number transferred to other institutions, and the number who died.

New Admissions Registers,

1941-1984.

(1 box)

{series #23.330}

Arranged in chronologically.

A record of new patients admitted to Woodville State Hospital. Information given includes the patient's admission number, name, race, gender, religious affiliation, and home address.

Patient Register,

[ca. 1913-1962.]

(1 volume)

{series #23.331}

Arranged chronologically, with entries for male and female patients appearing on alternate pages.

Register of patients admitted to Woodville State Hospital. Information given includes the patient's name, register number, date of admission, place of residence, race, age, marital status, whether native or foreign born, and the date discharged, died, or eloped.

Patient Register Books of the Allegheny County Hospital for the Insane,

1900-1935.

(4 volumes, 1 folder)

{series #23.332}

Arranged alphabetically by patient surname.

Register of patient admissions and discharges at the Allegheny County Hospital for Insane Patients. Information includes the patient's name, register number, date of admission or discharge, dates of any paroles, and home residence address.

Physicians Night Ledger,

1971-1972.

(1 folder)

{series 23.333} [RESTRICTED]

Arranged chronologically.

A record of night calls to physicians providing night coverage for patients at Woodville State Hospital. The ledger gives the patient's name, the reason for the night call, the physician's recommendation or prescription ordered, and the physician's signature.

Population Account Register,

1922-1941.

(1 volume)

{series 23.334}

Arranged chronologically.

Monthly population account register of the number of patients admitted to the Woodville State Hospital. Information given includes the total population at the beginning of the month; the total population at the end of the month; the total number of patents removed, discharged, transferred, or died; the number of patients who were criminally insane and the number of attending physicians.

Register of Aliens,

1955-1960, 1964-1981.

(2 folders)

{series 23.335}

Arranged alphabetically by patient surname.

Register of aliens admitted tothe Woodville State Hospital. The register gives the patient's name, country of origin, date of birth and register number.

Return Admissions Register,

1970-1884.

(2 folders)

{series 23.336}

Arranged chronologically.

Register of patients who were readmitted to Woodville State Hospital. Information given includes the patient's name, the date of readmission, age, date of birth, religious affiliation, home address, marital status, race, gender, and citizenship status.

Transfer Book,

1956-1959.

(1 folder)

{series 23.337}

Arranged numerically by date of transfer.

Record book of patients who were transferred into the Woodville State Hospital. Information given includes the patient's name, date transferred, name of the institution from which transferred and the initials of the person who transferred the patient into the hospital facility.


PA State Archives Hours, Directions, & Fees Research Topics Finding Aids for Collections Land Records