Since the first institutions were established by the State of Minnesota a variety of boards and departments have provided oversight to them. Among the administering boards and departments are:
- State Board of Corrections and Charities (1883-1901)
- State Board of Control (1901-1939)
- Department of Social Security, Division of Public Institutions (1939-1953)
- The Department of Public Welfare was created in 1953 when the three divisions of the Department of Social Security were split into two functionally aligned agencies. Employment and Security became a department on its own while Social Welfare and Public Institutions were combined to form the Department of Public Welfare.
- The Department of Public Welfare was changed to the Department of Human Services in 1984.
- The Corrections Department was established by the legislature in 1959, bringing together in one department the functions formerly performed by the independent Youth Conservation Commission, the Board of Parole, and the Corrections Division of the Department of Public Welfare.
The records of the Public Welfare Department Public Institutions Division include indexes to residents or patients in many of the institutions covering the years 1868-1924.
For residents after 1924, search the Department of Human Services patient index cards. The patient cards cover multiple institutions and are divided into two series, one for patients who were temporary residents of those institutions and a second for those who died in the institution.