Beyond the Internet: Week 17 Hospital records

This is Week 17 in my Beyond the Internet series in which I explore the sources of information beyond our computer screens. This week the topic is Hospital admissions and records, which can be surprisingly useful.

I’d love it if you wanted to join in and tell us about your successes with these records, or share your experience, especially if you live overseas and use different set of records. If possible please provide a link to your post on this page.

Hospital notices

In the early days of settlement some hospital boards published their statistics annually and included the names of patients who had died. This can be useful where death indexes prove difficult.

As an example: Francis (Franz Ignaz) Zöller died on 28 April 1862 from phlebitis suppuratoria in Toowoomba Hospital as reported in the Darling Downs Gazette (DDG).[1] The death index is for Tiller.

Similarly, depending on the “chattiness” of the newspaper, you may get ambulance reports of family members being taken to hospital for injuries large and small.

These examples highlight a couple of things: (1) even though the DDG is on Trove, the name doesn’t come up. Would you look nearly a year after his death for information? (2) the value of indexes provided by the local family history society.

Hospital Admission Books: Where to find them

If you are researching in Queensland, you are in luck. Judy Webster’s excellent site provides indexes to some of the hospital admission records held by the Queensland State Archives. QSA also has some indexes available. Judy also has some useful background information about the costs to patients’ families. If you have Queensland family history, do have a thorough browse of Judy’s site as it’s full of information, and she also has a great book you can buy, which I’ve found very useful.

How do you do check the records if you want to do this yourself? Well go to your state archives catalogue (usually online these days) and search by the name of the hospital. Be careful that the name of the hospital you know it by today, may not always have been its name eg I initially searched for “Royal Brisbane Hospital” but using “Brisbane Hospital admissions” is what gives results.

Also keep in mind that you may be wise to search the mental asylum records as people were admitted for a variety of conditions from post-natal depression to full psychosis. Once again, Judy Webster also has indexes for Qld while the Public Records Office of Victoria has some of their records available online to download and browse. Use this link for mental asylum records at State Records of NSW.

Hospital records: What might you find

Reasonably obviously this is likely to change over time, however some early admission records provide wonderful information about the person’s immigration, place of residence, next of kin and the like. A few years ago I browsed these records looking for details on anyone from East Clare or for any clues to my Germans, and there is a wealth of information in them.

An example: Thanks to Judy’s index, I easily found the admission record for Carl Diflo to Brisbane Hospital. Carl Diflo was admitted to the Brisbane Hospital on 17 November 1856 and discharged on 29 November 1856.[2] I believe this is the man I research among my Dorfprozelten immigrants. The age stated is not correct, but he is a German Catholic and the surname is very unusual. Carl was suffering from rheumatism and severe pains in his feet. He had been living on salt meat for more than a year in the bush. This lets me deduce a fair bit about his early life in Moreton Bay after arrival in 1855.

For various reasons the Diflo family had a terrible time in Australia and his daughter Phoebe Nevison was also admitted to the Rockhampton asylum with what seems to be post-natal depression. Her file includes details of the cost of her care, and a letter from her husband explaining his difficulty in paying as well as providing information about his work and their children.

Military Hospitals

Following on from the various Anzac Day posts, it’s worth considering where our relatives were sent to recuperate from war injuries, and how they were treated.

This post from Helen Smith is an excellent example of how different sources of information can be used to reveal more of their experience in the military hospital.

Next week: Benevolent Asylums


[1] Deaths in Australia, Volume 2, extracted from The Darling Downs Gazette August 1860-Dec 1865, Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society Inc, Toowoomba, 2002, page 31 (Ziller). Darling Downs Gazette 5 March 1863, annual report, page 3. Qld Death certificate 1862/C000089 indexed as Tiller: Francis Tiller, son of Peter Tiller and Magdalene Villers, consistent with the names of Franz Ignaz’s parents.

[2] Queensland State Archives Item ID2903, Case book,  Microfilm Z1626, page 509.

52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy: Week 1: Blogs to inspire.

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog, in conjunction with Geneabloggers, has kicked off 2012 with a new series of weekly blogging prompts themed as 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy.  Week 1 is Blogs: Blogging is a great way for genealogists to share information with family members, potential cousins and each other. For which blog are you most thankful? Is it one of the earliest blogs you read, or a current one? What is special about the blog and why should others read it?

After some deliberation I decided that Judy Webster’s series of blogs are most deserving of my #1 Vote. In 2011, Judy set up the Genealogists for Families blog with the motto: We care about families (past, present and future). Judy inspired many of us to join her and make microloans through Kiva. By doing this we can have a great impact on the lives of families around the world who are struggling for economic and family independence.

However, Judy Webster has also been a force in Queensland (Australia) genealogy for many years. Her blog Queensland Genealogy builds on her earlier webpage in which she offers free indexes to a large number of resources held by the Queensland State Archives and tips us off on which ones are valuable to use. Anyone with family history interests in Queensland would benefit from following her blog or reading her book Tips for Queensland Research. She also hosts other blogs but for me, the Queensland Genealogy blog is leader of the stable.

The topic called for one blogger to be nominated but as the topic is Abundant Genealogy I can’t omit Geniaus who is a lynch-pin for Aussie genealogists providing linkages, pertinent posts and geneamemes and is “our” RootsTech blogger. I’m also thankful to Geniaus and Carole Riley for their supportive comments on my own blog during its infancy, which encouraged me to keep going.

And abundantly, those many bloggers whose stories I follow regularly, some of whom are listed here.

Beyond the Internet Geneameme

Following on my posts about the changes in family history over the past 25 years I thought it would be good to look at family history resources beyond the internet and how we use them today. I’ve built up a list of 60 resources or activities that take our research beyond the digitised records (much as I do love them!). It will be interesting to see which resources people are using most, and perhaps tip off new researchers on just how much is hiding in archives. To draw up my list I’ve used my own experience and referred to Judy Webster’s Tips for Queensland research and the PROV’s book Private Lives, Public Records. New researchers might also be interested in the Unlock the Past book It’s not all online by Shauna Hicks.[i]

Overseas researchers may want to add to the list or replace items with ones relevant to their own research. Remember this is all about locating information from sources not on the internet (with a couple of small exceptions). Please add your responses to the comments and I’ll put up a consolidated list in due course.

As usual the process is as follows:

Beyond the Internet Geneameme[ii]

Things you have already done or found: bold face type
Things you would like to do or find: italicize (colour optional)
Things you haven’t done or found and don’t care to: plain type
You are encouraged to add extra comments in brackets after each item

  1. Looked at microfiche for BDM indexes which go beyond the online search dates.
  2. Talked to elderly relatives about your family history.
  3. Obtained old family photos from relatives.
  4. Have at least one certificate (birth/death/marr) for each great-grandparent.
  5. Have at least one certificate (birth/death/marr) for each great-great-grandparent.
  6. Seen/held a baptism or marriage document in a church, church archive or microfilm.
  7. Seen your ancestor’s name in some other form of church record eg kirk session, communion rolls.
  8. Used any microfilm from an LDS family history centre for your research.
  9. Researched using a microfilm other than a parish register (LDS family history centre/other).
  10. Used cemetery burial records to learn more about your relative’s burial.
  11. Used funeral director’s registers to learn more about your relative’s burial.
  12. Visited all your great-grandparents’ grave sites.
  13. Visited all your great-great-grandparents’ grave sites.
  14. Recorded the details on your ancestors’ gravestones and photographed them.
  15. Obtained a great-grandparent’s will/probate documents.
  16. Obtained a great-great grandparent’s will/probate documents.
  17. Found a death certificate among will documents.
  18. Followed up in the official records, something found on the internet.
  19. Obtained a copy of your immigrant ancestors’ original shipping records.
  20. Found an immigration nomination record for your immigrant ancestor[iii].
  21. Found old images of your ancestor’s place of origin (online or other).
  22. Read all/part of a local history for your ancestor’s place of residence.
  23. Read all/part of a local history for your ancestor’s place of origin.
  24. Read your ancestor’s school admission records.
  25. Researched the school history for your grandparents.
  26. Read a court case involving an ancestor (online newspapers don’t count for this).
  27. Read about an ancestor’s divorce case in the archives.
  28. Have seen an ancestor’s war medals.
  29. Have an ancestor’s military record (not a digitised copy eg WWII).
  30. Read a war diary or equivalent for an ancestor’s battle.
  31. Seen an ancestor’s/relative’s war grave.
  32. Read all/part of the history of an ancestor’s military unit (battalion/ship etc).
  33. Seen your ancestor’s name on an original land map.
  34. Found land selection documents for your immigrant ancestor/s.
  35. Found other land documents for your ancestor (home/abroad)
  36. Located land maps or equivalent for your ancestor’s place of origin.
  37. Used contemporaneous gazetteers or directories to learn about your ancestors’ places.
  38. Found your ancestor’s name in a Post Office directory of the time.
  39. Used local government sewerage maps (yes, seriously!) for an ancestor’s street.
  40. Read an inquest report for an ancestor/relative (online/archives).
  41. Read an ancestor’s/relative’s hospital admission.
  42. Researched a company file if your family owned a business.
  43. Looked up any of your ancestor’s local government rate books or valuation records.
  44. Researched occupation records for your ancestor/s (railway, police, teacher etc).
  45. Researched an ancestor’s adoption.
  46. Researched an ancestor’s insolvency.
  47. Found a convict ancestor’s passport or certificate of freedom.
  48. Found a convict ancestor’s shipping record.
  49. Found an ancestor’s gaol admission register.
  50. Found a licencing record for an ancestor (brands, publican, etc).
  51. Found an ancestor’s mining lease/licence.
  52. Found an ancestor’s name on a petition to government.
  53. Read your ancestor’s citizenship document.
  54. Read about your ancestor in an undigitised regional newspaper.
  55. Visited a local history library/museum relevant to your family.
  56. Looked up your ancestor’s name in the Old Age Pension records.
  57. Researched your ancestor or relative in Benevolent Asylum/Workhouse records.
  58. Researched an ancestor’s/relative’s mental health records.
  59. Looked for your family in a genealogical publication of any sort (but not online remember).
  60. Contributed family information to a genealogical publication.

[i] I do not receive any remuneration from any of these people or organisations. I’ve just found them to be helpful in my own research.

[ii] The Geneameme is a new term coined by Geniaus.

[iii] Pastkeys’ indexes to NSW Immigration Deposit Journals 1853-1900 might be helpful as a starter.