06 April 2020
Does your family tree include an ancestor who spent time in hospital? Find out more about his or her illness and time in hospital with our top website picks.
1. Hospital Records Database
The most obvious place to look for more information is in hospital records, but these have survived in only piecemeal fashion, and detailed day-by-day accounts of a patient’s care rarely exist. The HospRec database can be a useful starting point for locating them, even though it is now a bit out of date.
It indexes the various surviving records by name or location of hospital, and shows you where they are now kept.
See National Archives here. It includes ‘lunatic asylums’ as well as general hospitals.
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2. National Archives Discovery
Since HospRec is no longer kept updated, you can also search Discovery to find records held at The National Archives (TNA) and in other UK archives here.
If you locate records for the hospital you’re looking for, there may be some patient-specific documents, such as admissions registers. Yet these registers often provide only a list of names and admission dates, although some are more detailed with a cause of admission, age and occupation for example. Many records are simply ‘administrative’ documents about the financial situation of the hospital, and so forth.
3. Historic Hospital Admission Registers Project
The Historic Hospital Admission Registers Project has copied and indexed admissions registers and some case notes from four children’s hospitals in London and Glasgow dating from 1852 to 1921.
You need to register with the website to see all the information available but you can then look for ancestors who may have been admitted in childhood. For example, nine-year-old Annie Eastland from Surrey was admitted to Great Ormond Street in 1870 and seems to have suffered from tuberculosis of the bones. She was discharged after a seven months’ stay in hospital, but was readmitted shortly after, and sadly died of tuberculosis in 1873.
For more on ancestor illnesses, read Simon Will's article in the May issue of Family Tree, on sale 7 April.
Dr Simon Wills is a genealogist and author with more than 25 years’ experience of researching his ancestors. He has a particular interest in maritime history and natural history and his latest books are ‘The History of Birds’ and ‘The History of Trees’. He is also author of ‘How Our Ancestors Died’ .
(image courtesy Simon Wills)