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State Hospitals: Historical Patient Records: Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children

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

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Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children

Gillette Hospital was established as the State Hospital for Indigent, Crippled, and Deformed Children, due to the efforts of its founder, Dr. Arthur J. Gillette, to entrust the state with the care of children with orthopedic disorders whose parents could not afford treatment. By 1905 it was apparent that a separate, special institution was needed for the care of crippled children, and the legislature appointed a commission to investigate this need. The St. Paul Business League and Commercial Club, and certain other citizens of St. Paul donated land adjacent to Phalen Park, and it became the new site for the hospital in 1907. Construction of a fresh-air sanatorium and educational and industrial school building was completed in 1913. Patients were transferred gradually to the new facility. In 1914, staff members included Dr. Gillette, as chief of staff, two orthopedic surgeons and an associate chief surgeon, a hospital superintendent, and a general head nurse. Many patients were confined to the hospital for several months or years; hence, an education program from kindergarten to post-high school was provided and the school was staffed accordingly. In 1925, as a memorial to Dr. Gillette, the hospital became known as the Gillette State Hospital for Crippled Children. In 1971, the name of the hospital was changed to the Gillette Children’s Hospital as a result of the diversity of cases being admitted. In 1973, the Gillette Hospital Authority was established as a public corporation in the executive branch and a political subdivision of the state. Currently, it is governed by the Gillette Hospital Board, consisting of the Commissioner of Public Welfare and six members appointed by the governor, with the consent of the senate.

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

We Hold This Treasure: The Story of Gillette Children’s Hospital, by Steven E. Koop. 
Afton, Minn. : Afton Historical Society Press, c1998.
MNHS call number: Reading Room RA982.S14 G585 1998

Patient Records

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

Admission Registers, 1906-1951

Admission information for children treated at the hospital. Information recorded includes patient name, register or case file number, age, birth date, address of family or closest relative, diagnosis, treatment, results, length of hospital stay, admission and discharge dates, and progress notes written by the hospital staff regarding each patient. The early volumes may also record nationality and physician.
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Case Files, 1897-1916
Admission and discharge forms, parents’ affidavit forms (giving family and financial information), correspondence concerning admission, and occasionally summary patient medical data. Many files are missing.
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. 

Employee Records

Minnesota Division of Public Institutions Personnel Service Records- Gillette, 1931-1938.
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).

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

Miscellaneous Records, 1900-1980
Correspondence from former patients describing their experiences at the hospital (1962-1978), a variety of historical and informational booklets, newspaper clippings (1906-1976), an alumni reunion invitation (1976), a patient newsletter (1944), and an article by Dr. Arthur J. Gillette on the care of indigent crippled children (1900).
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

Scrapbooks, 1898-1976
Scrapbooks documenting the hospital’s facilities, activities of the staff and patients, and treatment methods. They include newspaper clippings, brochures and special event programs, informational and historical materials, greeting cards, correspondence, and photographs. The latter document the facilities, including the library and hospital lab, the staff and patients, treatment equipment, and patient and staff activities. Items of particular interest include a library floor plan, Gillette Theatre program, obituary of Dr. Arthur J. Gillette, Diamond Anniversary token and related items (1972), and Gillette Site Selection Committee Report (1973).
MNHS call number: Digital Finding Aid

The Gil-letter, 1958
St. Paul, Minn.: Gillette State Hospital.
MNHS call number: FOLIO RD705.S2 G42

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