Byberry State Hospital

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I am wondering if I can get ahold of records from this State Hospital? Does anyone know where I might gain access to their patient records? I am trying to locate a family member that might have been a patient there for many years. I used to live a few blocks from this place as a kid. Used to drive by it on the way home from places.

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Byberry is probably going to be a difficult one to track patient records on. A lot of the patients were essentially put on the street in "community programs" and I have no idea how you would even track records through those places. After much delay (mainly because of the death of two released patients), byberry closed in June 1990. According to Wikipedia the few patients that stayed in state care went to Norristown. The records at the PA State Archives only date to the early 1940s. So your best bet might be to contact Norristown State Hospital to see if they have any record of your family member. If they do not then there is probably a good chance that they were released into the community.

Norristown State Hospital Webpage
http://www.thomas-industriesinc.com/ - Author of Harrisburg State Hospital (Images of America). Owner of City on the Hill & Danville State Hospital websites.

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There is probably a good chance that the records were left to rot by the state in some forgotten record room at Byberry.

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Quote:Soldat251 Fri 14th 10:34 am
There is probably a good chance that the records were left to rot by the state in some forgotten record room at Byberry.


Agreed. When Pennsylvania closed the Byberry, they were in a rush to move out so a lot of things, including records, were left behind. So there might be a chance that you may not find anything at all. So be prepared for that.

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Even active hospitals seem to "lose" records by leaving them behind in abandoned buildings. I suppose it made sense to leave them be in a unoccupied building for storage but time passes, the building leaks, gets torn down, catches fire, or people just forget they are there at all.

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There are supposed to be records at the state level. I used to work in a mental hospital so I know what is "supposed" to be done. I know they closed and were demolished. I have read many things on Byberry. The records I am seeking go back to early 1900's. They are probably not available anywhere. I didn't find out till today that they would have gone back that far. The person I was looking for died between 1910/1915. Thanks for responding.

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I suppose a call to the state archives or the Department of Public Welfare could possibly help.

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http://theduke81.tripod.com/

I would try contacting GoddoG through his website. He probably has one of the most complete collections of materials from Byberry of anyone I know of. I know he pulled some of the time capsules that were stored in the corner stones and was one of the hard core Byberry explorers, if anyone might have come across records it would probably have been him.
Edited On 1:31:12 PM - Mon, Oct 17th 2011 by Evilavatar

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I recall reading a interview with a former worker there who stateed on numerous occasions that tons of records and outdated medical equipment was sealed and left in unused tunnels at the hospital. Who knows, but good luck.

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Actually I was going to message Goddog and he has a post on his contact page stating that a lot of the records were moved to Norristown State Hospital. Medical records can be requested at these numbers, but Pennsylvania has taken a really strict stance under HIPAA rules so you may have a hard time getting anything.
Bucks County MH/MR Department (215-442-0760)
Chester County Department of MH/MR (610-334-6265)
Delaware County Department of Human Services (610-275-2232)
Montgomery County MH/MR/D&A (610-278-3642)
Philadelphia County Office of MH/MR (215-546-0300)

To explain the HIPAA comment, the State of Pennyslvania will only release psychiatric records to next of kin if they can prove kinship and adequate reasoning for accessing the records, to police if they are required by an investigation, or to the physician of a person who is a relative if kinship and need can be proven. In all other cases the psychiatric records are considered a sealed record and inaccessible without a court order, even if the patient is deceased. They have actually gone so far as to not release the records to the normal state archives in some cases. Your best bet is contacting the Norristown Medical records, pleading your case and hoping for the best, or making a concerted effort to get to know someone in their records department that can help you.

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dang, sorry that was me. I've been posting all over the place thinking I was logged in

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I'd like to get my records from Byberry. Has anyone got their's yet?

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Quote: Sun 23rd 6:24 pm
I'd like to get my records from Byberry. Has anyone got their's yet?


Curious, is anyone out there that was a patient at Byberry?

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I have never met any former patients of Byberry.

I had two relatives who were in Byberry. One was shellshocked in WWI and developed schizophrenia. The other believed he was Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind and the book was written about him.

I cannot remember which but one of them was in Byberry when the family moved. They left a forwarding address and told the people who bought their house that if he escaped or were released he would probably come there and to give him their address. One day he showed up but when he did not recognize the new owners when they answered the door he ran off. We don't know what happened to him.

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Quote:Soldat251 Sat 5th 10:20 pm
I have never met any former patients of Byberry.

I had two relatives who were in Byberry. One was shellshocked in WWI and developed schizophrenia. The other believed he was Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind and the book was written about him.

I cannot remember which but one of them was in Byberry when the family moved. They left a forwarding address and told the people who bought their house that if he escaped or were released he would probably come there and to give him their address. One day he showed up but when he did not recognize the new owners when they answered the door he ran off. We don't know what happened to him.


Thank you. I was hoping to meet someone just to see how they are surviving. I was there in 1971. I really appreciate the response.


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