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State Hospitals: Historical Patient Records: Fergus Falls

Historical patient, employee, and student records from Minnesota State Hospitals

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Fergus Falls State Hospital

In response to overcrowding in the hospitals at St. Peter and Rochester, the 1885 state legislature commissioned the Third Minnesota State Hospital for the Insane. Since the existing hospitals were in southern Minnesota, the new hospital was to be north of the Twin Cities and Fergus Falls was chosen as the site. The Fergus Falls State Hospital opened in 1890 and was designed on a model established by physician Thomas Kirkbride. It first received transfer patients from the St. Peter State Hospital, and then admitted only men.  Women were first admitted to the institution in 1893. 

Patient records for the Fergus Falls State Hospital can be viewed in person at the library or ordered online from our  State Hospital Records Request

A Short History of the Fergus Falls State Hospital, Fergus Falls, Minnesota, by Emery Johnson.
Fergus Falls, Minn.: The Hospital, 1972.
MNHS call number: RC445.M62 F475 1972

Patient Records

To order state hospital records for an individual visit our State Hospital Records Request.  

Casebooks, 1890-1903. 
Personal and medical histories of each patient admitted to the hospital. The casebooks include patient’s name and case file number, county of residence, date admitted, gender, age, nativity, marital status, occupation, education, religion, medical history and condition, date discharged, and may have a photograph of the patient. For some patients there are letters requesting family history information, with replies from the hospital that include clinical charts and legal documents. Each volume is individually indexed.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Commitment Papers, 1890-1967. 
The records may include warrant of commitment, report of examination, absence agreement, judicial order, voluntary application to state hospital, transcript of judicial proceedings, state hospital proceedings report, and related probate court and state hospital papers, as the individual case required.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Statistical Records, 1890-1967.
Records containing such information as admission date, patient’s name and residence, length of time in state, gender, age, marital status, nativity, parents’ nativity, occupation, habits, number of attacks, alleged cause, duration before admission, number of admissions, previous hospital residence, form of sanity (numerical code), discharge date, condition on discharge, and remarks. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Patient Registers and Indexes- Fergus Falls, 1898-1924.
Part of the Minnesota Division of Public Institutions Series
Alphabetical index by patient name, and statistical record that may include admission date, patient’s name and residence, length of time in state, gender, age, marital status, nativity, parents’ nativity, occupation, habits, number of attacks, alleged cause, duration before admission, number of admissions, previous hospital residence, discharge date, condition on discharge, and remarks. 
MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid

Admission and Discharge Records, 1890-2006.
Admission and discharge records and patient index cards. Information provided may include name, case file number, sex, residence, admission number, admission/discharge/death/transfer/deportation dates, originating county, tubercular status or vaccination, discharge condition, and other personal data. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Aggregated Patient Cards, 1920s-1990s
Part of the Department of Human Services Administrative Records
Aggregated patient index cards from various state hospitals; information includes name, Department of Public Welfare number, birth date, birth place, county of commitment, county of residence, occupation, hospital, hospital case number, social security number, admittance history. Patients may have multiple cards.
MNHS call numberDigital Finding Aid

Note: These records include private information about individuals. Records with private information are closed for 75 years from date of last entry in the record. Researchers must apply for permission to use these records.  Click here for more information on accessing restricted records. 

Employee Records

Minnesota Division of Public Institutions Personnel Service Records- Fergus Falls, 1934-1938.
Cards listing employee name, address, position, salary, brief statement of duties, data on previous state service, education, training, and personal and family information.
MNHS call number: See the finding aid in the library (Social Security Department: Public Institutions Division).

Staff Records, 1891-1998. 
Staff member lists (1891-1893), daily time records, and minutes of the monthly and weekly staff meetings. The early minutes mainly deal with the parole or diagnoses of individual patients. The latter minutes detail the medical treatments and policies of the hospital, professional activities of the medical staff, individual case studies from among the patients, and other administrative aspects of the hospital’s operation.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Financial Records, 1889-1992.
Records documenting various financial transactions, including a classified statement of supplies, particularly food, medical, household, and building, received at the hospital, as well as, the cost/expense incurred in acquiring them (1889-1901), voucher and order register (1900-1901), data on wages and employee training (1891-1927), quarterly estimates of salaries and expenses (1901-1916), payroll estimates (1908-1916), payroll records (1901-1955).
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Note: These records include private information about individuals. Records with private information are closed for 75 years from date of last entry in the record. Researchers must apply for permission to use these records.  Click here for more information on accessing restricted records. 

Other Records

Photographs, 1894-1990.
Photographs of hospital staff and residents and various aspects of the hospital facility, including aerial views of the campus; exterior shots of various buildings and the grounds; major remodeling of the wards in 1958, 1960, and 1961; and interior shots of the boilers and heating plant, kitchen, patient rooms, dayrooms, dining areas, physical education and physical/occupational therapy facilities, school rooms, recreation areas, library, canteen, vocational training center, and speech and audiology equipment. Also photographs of the first motorized bus, laundry and kitchen staff, a volunteer services banquet (ca. 1958), occupational therapy activities (1953, 1967), and Boy Scout Troop 310 (ca. 1990); and two pen and ink sketches of the campus (1990). 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Subject Files, 1891-1990. 
Files relating to all aspects of the institution’s management, including general administration, personnel, patients, and medical service. Topics covered include accreditation; building and construction; 1990 centennial; improvements; nursing school; patient activities, particularly holiday programs and concerts and gymnasium class; and various diseases and treatments, including psychopathic personality, lobotomy, staphylococcus infections, tranquilizers, phenothiazines, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever. There are also minutes of the cabinet, library staff, pharmacy committee, and volunteer council; social service staff memos; occupational therapy reports; and socially hazardous persons bulletins. 
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

The Weekly Pulse
Fergus Falls, Minn: Fergus Falls State Hospital.
V. 24 (1956) - v. 52 (1985).
MNHS call number: RC445.M6 F

Community Mental Health News
Fergus Falls, Minn: Fergus Falls State Hospital, 1969-1972.
v.1-v.3:9 (1969-Mar. 1972).
MNHS call number: RC445.M63 F4523

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