Guide to Federal Records

Records of St. Elizabeths Hospital


(Record Group 418)
1820-1981 (bulk 1855-1967)
428 cu. ft.

Table of Contents

  • 418.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY
  • 418.2 GENERAL RECORDS 1820-1967 (bulk 1855-1967) 102 lin. ft.
  • 418.2.1 Records of the Board of Visitors
  • 418.2.2 Records of the Office of the Superintendent
  • 418.3 RECORDS OF INDIVIDUAL SUPERINTENDENTS 1820-1964 72 lin. ft.
  • 418.3.1 Records of Superintendent Charles H. Nichols
  • 418.3.2 Records of Superintendent William W. Godding
  • 418.3.3 Records of Superintendent William Alanson White
  • 418.3.4 Records of other superintendents
  • 418.4 RECORDS OF SUBORDINATE OFFICES 1855-1981 (bulk 1855-1955) 396 lin. ft.
  • 418.4.1 Records of the Medical Records Branch
  • 418.4.2 Records of the Public Information Office
  • 418.4.3 Other records
  • 418.5 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)

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418.1 ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Established: In the Department of the Interior, by an act of July 1, 1916 (39 Stat. 309).

Predecessor Agencies:

  • Government Hospital for the Insane (1855-1916)

Transfers: To the Federal Security Agency (FSA) by Reorganization Plan No. IV of 1940, effective June 30, 1940; to the newly established Department of Health, Education, and Welfare by Reorganization Plan No. 1, effective April 11, 1953; to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Public Health Service (PHS), by Secretary's reorganization order, August 9, 1967; with the NIMH to the newly created Health Services and Mental Health Administration (HSMHA), PHS, by Secretary's reorganization order, April 1, 1968; with the NIMH to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), PHS, upon abolishment of HSMHA by Secretary's reorganization order, July 1, 1973; with the NIMH to the newly created Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA), PHS, by Secretary's reorganization order, September 25, 1973; with NIMH, ADAMHA, and PHS to the newly created Department of Health and Human Services, effective May 4, 1980, by the Department of Education Organization Act (93 Stat. 695), October 17, 1979; to the Government of the District of Columbia, effective October 1, 1987, by the St. Elizabeths Hospital and District of Columbia Mental Health Services Act (98 Stat. 3369), November 9, 1984.

Functions: Provides mental health care services to residents of the District of Columbia and to other individuals eligible for care under specific federal laws. Provided mental health care services to members of the armed forces until such services were terminated by Reorganization Plan No. III of 1946, effective July 16, 1946.

Abolished: Federal responsibility for administration of St. Elizabeths Hospital terminated upon its transfer to the Government of the District of Columbia, October 1, 1987.

Finding Aids: Dorothy S. Provine, comp., Preliminary Inventory of the Records of St. Elizabeths Hospital, PI 193 (1981).

Related Records: Record copies of publications of St. Elizabeths Hospital in RG 287, Publications of the U.S. Government.

RECORDS
RECORD TYPES RECORD LOCATIONS QUANTITIES
Textual Records Washington Area 414 cu. ft.
Still Pictures College Park 3,936 images

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418.2 GENERAL RECORDS
1820-1967 (bulk 1855-1967)
102 lin. ft.

History: Government Hospital for the Insane organized in Department of the Interior by an act of March 3, 1855 (10 Stat. 682), pursuant to the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Act (10 Stat. 92), August 31, 1852, to provide care for the insane of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Army and Navy. Redesignated St. Elizabeths Hospital, 1916. SEE 418.1.

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418.2.1 Records of the Board of Visitors

History: Appointed by the President under the act of March 3, 1855, to supervise expenditures and general operations of the hospital. Abolished by Reorganization Plan No. II of 1946, effective July 16, 1946.

Textual Records: Minutes, 1855-1901, 1903-46. Correspondence and other records, 1857-1903. General correspondence and membership records of the secretary to the board, 1906-47. Hearings before the committee of investigations concerning charges against Supt. Charles H. Nichols, 1869. Records of inspections, 1878-1946.

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418.2.2 Records of the Office of the Superintendent

Textual Records: Administrative files, ca. 1921-64. Letters sent, 1857-1906, including letters relating to women patients, 1864- 1902. Records documenting the relationship between the Department of the Interior and the hospital, 1902-43; and between the District of Columbia and the hospital, 1906-46. Records of the Federal Board of Hospitalization, including correspondence and promotional literature relating primarily to the selection of hospital sites, 1921-43. Treatment files, 1926-43. Records relating to the preparation of the superintendent's annual reports, 1928-44. Annual, semiannual, and monthly reports of subordinate units, 1919-67. Hospital manual, 1873-1936. Lists of markers in the Civil War cemetery, 1855-99. Diary of an unidentified doctor, March-October 1869. Personal papers, ca. 1861-1934, of Arthur C. MacDonald, an anthropologist in the Bureau of Education, 1892-1904, pertaining primarily to his work in criminal and legislative anthropology, and including the personal diary of his mother, 1861-69. Scrapbooks, 1937, 1953-57. Readings relating to group work training, 1962.

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418.3 RECORDS OF INDIVIDUAL SUPERINTENDENTS
1820-1964
72 lin. ft.

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418.3.1 Records of Superintendent Charles H. Nichols

Textual Records: Records concerning hospital administration, 1857-77. Letters received from Dorothea Dix, 1858-68. Records pertaining to the improvement of "Asylum Road," 1863-66.

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418.3.2 Records of Superintendent William W. Godding

Textual Records: Letters received, 1878-98. Records relating to hospital maintenance and construction, 1879-98. Legal documents, 1883-87. Records relating to the purchase of Oxon Hill Manor, ca. 1891-92. Text of a speech, ca. 1897.

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418.3.3 Records of Superintendent William Alanson White

Textual Records: Personal correspondence, 1906-37. Records relating to the writing of William Alanson White: The Autobiography of a Purpose (1938), 1906-36. Correspondence and other records concerning patients, 1884-1921. Records pertaining to consultations and requests for medical advice, 1906-37. Correspondence and notes relating to the Leopold-Loeb court case, 1924. Records relating to the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, 1925-28; the Institute for Child Guidance, 1928-33; and the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, 1932-35. Operating instructions, 1883-1908. Administrative correspondence and other records, 1909-29. Records relating to legislation, legal proceedings, and other matters, 1910-26. Records of the Committee to Consider the Organization and Needs of the Government Hospital for the Insane, 1910-12. Records, 1903-28, relating to investigations of the hospital conducted in 1906, 1919, and 1926. Records relating to the American Red Cross, 1917-36; beneficiaries of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, 1921-22; and a survey of employment conditions at mental hospitals, 1928-30.

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418.3.4 Records of other superintendents

Textual Records: Correspondence and other records of Acting Superintendent Roscoe W. Hall, 1937. Records of Superintendent Winfred Overholser, consisting of office files, 1937-55, and historical files, 1820, 1844-81. Records of Superintendent Dale Cameron relating to a 1963 investigation of the hospital, 1963- 64.

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418.4 RECORDS OF SUBORDINATE OFFICES
1855-1981 (bulk 1855-1955)
396 lin. ft.

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418.4.1 Records of the Medical Records Branch

Textual Records: Records of cases, 1855-1941. Register of female patients, 1866-1933. Case files of patients, 1855-1981 (bulk 1855-1950). Records relating to Garcia antiluetic treatments, 1937-38. Case files relating to metrazol and insulin therapy, 1937-39, with index. Clinical notes relating to the serpasil geriatric project, 1954-55. Conference record books, 1920-22, 1929-30, 1936-38.

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418.4.2 Records of the Public Information Office

Photographs (1,400 images): Hospital buildings, grounds, staff, and patients; Dorothea Dix; and a play presented by patients for the hospital's 1955 centennial celebration, 1870-1955 (G, P).

Lantern Slides (2,440 images): Purchased for therapeutic and entertainment purposes, depicting buildings, monuments, people, and scenery in the United States, Europe, and other areas, including scenes of the Spanish-American War, the Prince of Wales on a trip to India, and the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, 1872- 1910 (S), with accompanying catalogs and caption lists.

Glass Slides (96 images): In color, depicting artistic, historical, and moral themes, purchased for therapeutic and entertainment purposes, 1872-1910 (W), with accompanying catalogs and caption lists.

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418.4.3 Other records

Textual Records: Requisition book, 1873-74. Records of Watson W. Eldridge, Chief of Medical and Surgical Services, 1920-41. Records relating to a course in neuropsychology offered to student officers of the U.S. Veterans Bureau, 1922-23. Reports of the Psychology Branch, 1922-63. Records of Margaret Ives, Chief of the Psychology Branch, 1952-70.

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418.5 STILL PICTURES (GENERAL)

SEE Photographs, Lantern Slides, and Glass Slides UNDER 418.4.2.


Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States. Compiled by Robert B. Matchette et al. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1995.
3 volumes, 2428 pages.

Ordering information

This Web version is updated from time to time to include records processed since 1995.


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