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.
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.
- 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.
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 Digitised Records
- Admissions to the Adelaide Hospital, later Royal Adelaide Hospital, 1840-1961
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.
The indexes 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
1905 - 1924
Digitised records on FamilySearch - Admission registers Adelaide Hospital, 1840 - 1952
- Adelaide Hospital case books 1868-1924
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).
The books can also be found using the 'Search in a Series' function in our ArchivesSearch catalogue by entering GRG78 and 57, and the name of the doctor.
- Admissions to the Colonial Lunatic Asylum, Adelaide and Parkside Lunatic Asylums, Parkside Mental Hospital and Glenside Hospital, 1845-1981
Admission papers, annual single number series - Colonial Lunatic Asylum, Adelaide and Parkside Lunatic Asylums, Parkside Mental Hospital and Glenside Hospital, 1845-1981 (GRS 13461)
Information recorded in admission papers gives the file number for the admission, name, date of admission and any previous admissions. The papers may also include specifics about the patient and their condition, as well as discharge papers or death notices. Instructions on how to access these records is included in the index.
For access to restricted admission papers which record information from the last 100 years, access must be sought from Glenside Mental Health Services. See our Restricted Records pages for more information and contact details.
- Lunacy petitions, 1853-1892
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.
Index for GRG 36/53 Lunacy petitions, numerical series, 1853-1892 - alphabetical by surname
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
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.