Thursday, September 26, 2013

Medical Records

Genealogy tip for today: Medical Records





Researching medical records is a unique situation.  With the current HIPAA laws, you would think it was absolutely impossible to do so. However, there are ways to do so and the results may be surprising.  Now granted it will be next to impossible to get present day records, unless the person is dead and you are next of kin. In that respect – you probably already know what there is to find out. And besides that, most records aren’t kept indefinitely any more. After a set number of years they are destroyed.

However, there are some things you can find out, especially the further back you go. Family Tree magazine recently wrote an article on this subject.

Genealogical information will be limited, but even the medical information may be enlightening as well. Here is what Sharon DeBartolo Carmack had to say:

Find Ancestors' Hospital Records


By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

Examine the genealogical clues hidden in old hospital records.

“Hospitals usually restrict access to patient records, allowing only the patient or, if the patient is deceased, the next of kin to obtain copies. And hospitals often keep their records for only a short period of time—as little as 10 years. But you may be able to obtain autopsy reports or admission records for genealogical purposes. If you have an ancestor's death certificate that shows an autopsy was performed, it's worth trying to get those records if you're interested in the gory details. It's doubtful, however, that the report will give you much genealogical information. The admission record, on the other hand, should give you at least the person's age and/or birth date.

“A few 19th-century hospital records are available in hospital and historical archives, and microfilmed copies may be available through the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City. When you check the library catalog at, go to Place Search and type in the city, town or county of interest. You'll get a subject category for medical records if any exist for that locality; click the link for detailed entries. For example, under New Orleans, La., you'd find:

  • Admission books, 1829-1899, Charity Hospital
  • City Physician's Office records, 1888
  • Hospital register and index, 1859-1899, Hotel Dieu Hospital
  • Hospital register, 1818-1835, 1867-1870, Charity Hospital
  • Hospitals' general register of patients, 1865, City Commissioner
  • Infirmary records, 1855-1934, Touro Infirmary
  • Insanity examinations, 1888, City Physician
  • Records of patients, 1874-1879, City Smallpox Hospital

“You could then borrow the microfilm of these records through your local Family History Center.

“If you're researching female ancestors, the records of Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital may be of particular interest. These records covering 1896 to 1933 document births, abortions and miscarriages for thousands of women who lived in the area, primarily immigrant women. Information varies from year to year. Earlier records give the woman's married name, her street address, the number of living children she had delivered ("para"), the number born at term, her ethnicity (many records were for Russian Jews, some for Irish Catholics, Polish Catholics and American Protestants), the person or agency that referred her ("thro former patient" or "thro Hull House," for example), her condition ("urgent, threatened abortion in 3rd month"), the case number and her admission date. Later records provide the same vital stats. They also list how many living children the woman delivered and how many were born at term, when she was expected to deliver ("confinement"), whether her labors were normal and whom she was attended by (the physician and student). The most recent records give information commonly found on birth certificates, such as the wife's maiden name, the husband's name, both parents' birthplaces and the baby's weight and name. The records are grouped by year and aren't indexed. But if you have a female immigrant ancestor who lived in Chicago between 1896 and 1933 near Northwestern Hospital, it may be worth your time to do a page-by-page search.

“Here is a typical entry from one of the more recent registers:

Mary Rudolph Salaterski
June 1, [1932]
1474 W. Huron 3rd floor
Polish Catholic
para iii 2 at term expects
confinement Aug. 29, 1932
labors [of previous delivery] normal:
2 (1 [birth by] midwife)
attended by Dr. Bradenman student Bruder 8-19-1932
Diagnosis: … male 9 [lbs.]
case or confinement #327
Mother's birthplace: Ill.
Age 25 Maiden name: Smolen
Father's birthplace: Poland Age 35
Baby's name: Rudolph Jr.

“Who knows? That record might be the only surviving clue to Mary's maiden name, Smolen.”

Interesting other websites that talk about the medical value for genealogy are:

These are just a few. If you are interested in pursuing this topic further, I used the keywords: medical records genealogy. Other combinations will bring you other results, as well.


1580 Sir Francis Drake returns to Plymouth, England, aboard the Golden Hind, after a 33-month
voyage to circumnavigate the globe.
1777 The British army launches a major offensive, capturing Philadelphia.
1786 France and Britain sign a trade agreement in London.
1820 The legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone dies quietly at the Defiance, Mo., home of his son Nathan, at age 85.
1826 The Persian cavalry is routed by the Russians at the Battle of Ganja in the Russian Caucasus.
1829 Scotland Yard, the official British criminal investigation organization, is formed.
1864 General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men assault a Federal garrison near Pulaski, Tennessee.
1901 Leon Czolgosz, who murdered President William McKinley, is sentenced to death.
1913 The first boat is raised in the locks of the Panama Canal.
1914 The Federal Trade Commission is established to foster competition by preventing monopolies in business.
1918 German Ace Ernst Udet shoots down two Allied planes, bringing his total for the war up to 62.
1937 Bessie Smith, known as the 'Empress of the Blues,' dies in a car crash in Mississippi.
1940 During the London Blitz, the underground Cabinet War Room suffers a hit when a bomb explodes on the Clive Steps.
1941 The U.S. Army establishes the Military Police Corps.
1950 General Douglas MacArthur's American X Corps, fresh from the Inchon landing, links up with the U.S. Eighth Army after its breakout from the Pusan Perimeter.
1955 The New York Stock Exchange suffers a $44 million loss.
1960 Vice President Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy participate in the first nationally televised debate between presidential candidates.
1961 Nineteen-year-old Bob Dylan makes his New York singing debut at Gerde's Folk City.
1967 Hanoi rejects a U.S. peace proposal.
1969 The Beatles last album, Abbey Road, is released.
1972 Richard M. Nixon meets with Emperor Hirohito in Anchorage, Alaska, the first-ever meeting of a U.S. President and a Japanese Monarch.
1977 Israel announces a cease-fire on Lebanese border.
1983 In the USSR Stanislav Petrov disobeys procedures and ignores electronic alarms indicating five incoming nuclear missiles, believing the US would launch more than five if it wanted to start a war. His decision prevented a retaliatory attack that would have begun a nuclear war between the superpowers.
1984 The UK agrees to transfer sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China.
1997 Two earthquakes strike Italy, causing part of the Basilica of St. Francis to collapse, killing four people and destroying much of the cycle of frescoes depicting the saint's life.
2008 Yves Rossy, a Swiss pilot and inventor, is the first person to fly a jet-powered wing across the English Channel.

Anne and Jane Taylor
1783 Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman), American pioneer.
1783 Jane Taylor, children's writer best known as the author of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
1887 Barnes Wallis, British aeronautical engineer who invented the "Bouncing Bombs" used to destroy German dams during World War II.
1888 T.S. Eliot, poet, critic, and dramatist whose work includes The Waste Land and Murder in the Cathedral.

1898 George Gershwin, composer who wrote many popular songs for musicals, along with his brother Ira.
1949 Jane Smiley, novelist (A Thousand Acres, Moo).
1953 Dolores Keane, Irish folk singer; founding member of band De Dannan.
1955 Carlene Carter, country-rock singer, songwriter, musician; daughter of June Carter,
stepdaughter of Johnny Cash ("Keep It Out of Sight," "Cool Reaction").
1969 David Slade, director (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night).

Word for the Day

lapsus linguae

(LAP-suhs LING-gwee, LAHP-soos LING-gwy)

noun: A slip of the tongue.

From Latin lapsus linguae (slip of the tongue). Earliest documented use: 1668.

Malapropisms and spoonerisms are two examples of lapsus linguae. And here is an example of a lapsus linguae which cost a game show contestant a potential one-million-dollar prize.
A lapsus calami is a slip of the pen.


"True, Bush mispronounced the name of Spain's Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, but not even that lapsus linguae could sour the mood in the first meeting between the two conservatives."
Bush's Gateway to Europe; Los Angeles Times; Jun 22, 2001.

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm but the harm does not interest them. -T.S. Eliot, poet (1888-1965)


Today’s Recipe

Home Cooking



  • One 4- to 5-pound whole chicken
  • 1 large navel orange
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 Tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Rinse and drain the chicken. Pat dry with paper towels. Run your fingers under the skin of the breast-meat and down the top of the legs to loosen the skin.

Remove the zest from the orange with a microplane. Set the orange flesh aside. Combine the orange zest, butter, and allspice into a compound butter. Use your fingers to push the peach butter evenly under the breast-skin and down the legs.

Slice half of the orange flesh and half of the sweet onion, placing the slices on the bottom of the crockpot. Coarsely chop the remaining halves of the orange and onion. Stuff these pieces into the cavity of the chicken and tie legs together.

Whisk together paprika, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mix evenly over the skin of the entire chicken. Place chicken, breast-side up, in the crockpot on top of the orange and onion slices. Cover and cook on Low for 4 to 6 hours.





Now You Know!