Overview

We hold some patient-related and administrative records from public hospitals and mental health facilities, known at the time as Lunatic Asylums.

Detailed medical records are rarely held.

Some historical Royal Adelaide Hospital records have been indexed and digitised.

We do not hold records:

  • of private hospitals - try the hospital or the managing corporation. Some historical information about private hospitals may be held by the State Library of South Australia.
  • of General Practitioner (GP) practices - your GP practice may be able to trace the records of former practices or doctors through the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Please tell AHPRA that you have been referred from State Records of South Australia.

Access conditions

Hospital records are typically restricted to protect personal information:

  • for patient records - between 60 to 100 years after they were created
  • for administrative records - up to 20 years after they were created.

For access to restricted patient records apply directly to the hospital concerned.

SA Health may provide you with authorisation to access restricted records through our Research Centre. You will need a specific series and item reference for the records.

Researching the records

You will need to know the hospital to which the person was admitted. Use a Keyword search in our catalogue ArchivesSearch with the name of the hospital with the keyword 'hospital' to see if we hold the records.

There are some online indexes and special lists for the Royal Adelaide Hospital, but other public hospital indexes are in hard copy only so will require a visit to the Research Centre.

For patient records from the Adelaide, Parkside and Glenside Lunatic Asylums which are likely to be over 100 years old, ask staff for assistance.

Indexes and special lists

Admission registers - Adelaide Hospital, later Royal Adelaide Hospital, 1840-1911 (GRG 78/49)

We hold 43 volumes of patient admission registers for the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) from 1841 to 1961. Admission registers are arranged chronologically by the admission of the patients.

These lists will help you to find a patient's admission by their name. It includes all of the information that appears in the registers except ailment and any medical officer notes.

You can use the volume, year and admission number to look at digitised copies of the registers. The name of the doctor might allow you to find a case book.

There are known gaps in this list (1856-1862), and it is currently under review. If you can't find the person you are after, you can try using the FamilySearch index, or hard copy original indexes in GRG 78/46 which can be viewed in our Research Centre.

1840 - 1904

Special list for GRG 78/49 RAH Admissions, 1840-1904 - A - E

Special list for GRG 78/49 RAH Admissions, 1840-1904 - F - L

Special list for GRG 78/49 RAH Admissions, 1840-1904 - M - R

Special list for GRG 78/49 RAH Admissions, 1840-1904 - S - Z

1905 - 1910

Special list for GRG 78/49 RAH Admissions, 1905-1910

1911

Special list for GRG 78/49 RAH Admissions, 1911

Adelaide Hospital Case Books, 1868-1924 (GRG 78/57)

These are patient case books and are arranged by name of the doctor, and then patient cases are arranged in order of admission.

The name of a doctor that treated a patient can sometimes be found in the Admission Registers (GRG 78/49).

Special list for GRG 78/57 - Case books, Adelaide Hospital, 1868-1924 - B - W

The books can also be found using a Search in a Series in our catalogue ArchivesSearch by entering GRG78 and 57, and the name of the doctor.

Admission papers, annual single number series - Colonial Lunatic Asylum, Adelaide and Parkside Lunatic Asylums, Parkside Mental Hospital and Glenside Hospital, 1845-1981 (GRS 13461)

Records may be able to be found and ordered by using a Search in a Series in our catalogue ArchivesSearch by entering GRS and 13461 and the name of the patient.

The arrangement of this series means that not all open access records are able to be found by public users. Ask staff for assistance to search this series for all records which may be over 100 years old.

Lunacy petitions, Supreme Court of South Australia, 1853-1892 (GRG 36/53)

The use of the word Lunacy in this series reflects the original term used in the 19th century.

This series consists of petitions and associated documents including affidavits filed with the Supreme Court in relation to the Lunatics Act. Under the Act the Court was granted the power to make orders regarding the maintenance of dependents. The Court also made orders for individuals found incapable of managing their own affairs due to mental illness.

Documents within the series may include statements by relatives and medical practitioners giving details of the financial situation and illness of the individual.

Special list for GRG 36/53 Lunacy petitions, numerical series, 1853-1892 - alphabetical by surname

Digitised records

Royal Adelaide Hospital - Patient admission registers, 1840-1952 (GRG 78/49)

FamilySearch - Admission registers Adelaide Hospital, 1840​ - 1952

Types of records

  • Admission records record the admission of a person into a hospital. Information recorded in registers varies over time but often includes:
    • patient's name
    • admission number
    • admission and discharge or death dates
    • ailment
    • rates charged
    • medical officer in attendance
    • address
    • marital status
    • occupation
    • place of origin
    • age
    • length of residence in the Colony and
    • the ship by which they arrived.
  • Patient case books record patients by doctor in admission order. Information in the case books varies over time, but generally includes:
    • name of patient
    • age
    • civil status
    • occupation
    • residence
    • birthplace
    • years in Colony
    • date admitted
    • disease and injury
    • date of discharge
    • result of treatment
    • medical notes and temperature charts (where used)
    • post mortem notes (if patient died).
  • Other registers including x-ray, birth, casualty, in-patient, radiotherapy, discharge, operating theatres, deaths in hospitals, disease classification and of operations. Information within the registers varies, however they will usually contain number, date, patient name, ward, surgeon, unit record (UR) number and details relevant to the medical procedure(s) undertaken or event(s) being recorded.
  • Other hospital records which may be useful include surgeon record books and case books, consulting room record books, anaesthetic books, visitor’s books, patient property books and post mortem books.

Records heldGRG 38/69, unit 1 item 19, Royal Adelaide Hospital Nurse's Quarters, From Street, Contract drawings of public buildings - Architect-in-Chief's Department and sucessors

We hold patient admission registers for the following hospitals:

  • Adelaide Children’s Hospital
  • Alfreda Rehabilitation Centre
  • Blyth District Hospital
  • Estcourt House
  • Hindmarsh Hospital
  • Northfield Infectious Diseases Hospital
  • Port Adelaide Casualty Hospital
  • Port Augusta Hospital
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  • Queen Victoria Hospital
  • Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH)
  • Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Key facts

South Australia’s first hospital operated from a tent and subsequently a hut, located near North Terrace and the parklands opposite.

The Adelaide Hospital was established in 1841 and evolved from the Colonial Infirmary which had existed since 1837.

In 1932 the Northfield Infectious Diseases Hospital was opened. The Infectious Diseases Block of the Adelaide Hospital closed. The Northfield Consumptive Home took over the role of the Consumptive Home of the Hospital.

The Adelaide Hospital was renamed the Royal Adelaide Hospital in 1939.