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Series VPRS 7456
Admission Warrants, Male and Female Patients
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series 1871 - 1924
  Series in Custody 1871 - 1924
  Contents 1859 - 1924
Public Access: Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1871 - 1924 Kew (Asylum 1871-1905; Hospital for the Insane 1905-1934; Mental Hospital 1934-c.1970's; Mental/Psychiatric Hospital c.1970's-1988) VA 2840
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
2009 - cont Department of Health III VA 4921
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    Admission warrants are generally arranged in admission number order. Admission numbers were allocated in chronological order by date of admission. Dates of admission can be obtained from the Register of Patients, Nominal Register, Index to Case Books and Annual Examination Registers. The centrally created Alphabetical Lists of Patients in Asylums (VPRS 7446) which covers the period 1849 to 1885 can also be used to obtain dates of admission.

  • Function / Content
    Admission Warrants consisted of the official document and accompanying medical certificates which authorized a person's committal to an asylum as a lunatic patient. People could be admitted to an asylum as a lunatic patient by a number of means, as follows:
    Any friend, relative or acquaintance could request a person's admission as a lunatic. The form of the request was initially established in the tenth schedule of the Lunacy Statute 1867. The order was to be accompanied by medical certificates written by two medical practitioners. The Mental Health Act 1959 classified such patients as: Recommended (R) and Approved (A) Patients. A person could be admitted upon the recommendation, set out in a prescribed form, of a medical practitioner who had examined the person. As soon as possible after admission the superintendent of the hospital was required to examine the patient and either approve the recommended admission or discharge the patient.

    Any (lunatic) person found wandering at large or not under proper care and control could be brought before two justices who could order the person's removal to an asylum. The police were usually responsible for bringing the person before the two justices. In these cases a police report will usually be found with the Order written by the two Justices, together with two medical certificates and a statement outlining the personal and medical details of the supposed lunatic. The Mental Health Act 1959 classified this type of patient as a Judicial Admission (J).

    Any prisoner of the Crown thought to be a lunatic could be removed from a gaol to an asylum by order of the Chief Secretary. Such persons were subsequently classified as security patients (S).

    Voluntary Boarders (V) were those who requested that they be admitted for a mutually agreed period of time (from 1915 onwards)

    Any Ward of the State thought to be a lunatic or mentally defective could be sent to an asylum by order of the Chief Secretary.

    The above types of admission had to be approved and certified within three days of a patient's reception at an asylum. Further details regarding these categories of admission are specified in the Lunacy Statute 1915 and the Mental Health Act 1959.

    Responsibility for the admission procedure has changed several times since 1867. The Lunacy Statute 1867 designated the Chief Secretary as the responsible authority. From 1893 to 1934 the Inspector General of the Insane supervised the admission procedure after which time responsibility was transferred to the Director of Mental Hygiene. In 1950 the authorised Medical Officer of the Mental Hygiene Authority was responsible for the admissions procedure. Subsequently, the Authorised Medical Officer of the Mental Health Authority (est 1962), the Mental Health Division of the Health Department (est 1978) and from 1985 the Office of Psychiatric Services have overseen the admissions procedure.

    The format of the admission papers has varied over time. In most cases the papers provide details of: the person's name; age; previous place of abode; occupation; and, in the case of "recommended" patients, details of the person requesting their admission. One or more reports written by medical practitioners are also usually attached. In many cases, papers recording the death, discharge or transfer of the patient or the release of the patient on trial leave are attached to the admission papers.

  • Recordkeeping System
    Records of patients in asylums are well controlled. For the most part patient records are arranged by the date of admission or date of discharge (including death). Indexes of patient surnames usually exist as a means of determing the relevant dates.

    Admissions of patients were recorded in date order in Registers of Patients and patients were allocated an admission number. An index of surnames was often created to provide access to the entries. The Admission Warrants authorising the committal of the patients to the asylum were filed by admission number and hence are also chronological by date of admission.

    Case histories were recorded on each patient. Initially the case histories were entered in bound volumes, known as Case Books, in order of date of admission (admission number order). A separate Index to the Case Books was sometimes maintained. From 1912 looseleaf folios were used. Known as Patient Clinical Notes, the folios were transferred as patients moved between asylums. The notes were ultimately filed alphabetically by surname according to the year of final discharge or death. Patient Files succeeded the Patient Clinical Notes in 1953 and were controlled and arranged in the same manner. Routine examinations of patients were recorded in Annual and Quinquennial Examination Registers. Entries in these registers are usually either by date of examination or by date of admission. The volumes are often self-indexing.

    Records of the discharge, transfer or death of patients was initially recorded in separate Discharge Registers as well as in the Register of Patients and the case histories. From 1962 separate Discharge Registers were phased out, however, some asylums continued to maintain them. Dates of admission and discharge were also recorded in Nominal Registers of Patients, which provide access by patient surname to other patient records.
    This series consists of Admission Warrants for patients admitted to the Kew Asylum. The warrants are arranged chronologically by date of admission. A further system of arrangement is also apparent with a number of registration numbers stamped or written on the documents.

    The first two boxes of this series contain admission warrants for patients who were originally admitted to Yarra Bend or Collingwood Asylums and were later transferred to Kew. The warrants were placed with series of warrants accumulated at Kew. Warrants in folders 1 to 3 in Unit One have been arranged by the date of admission to Collingwood or Yarra Bend as the papers recording the date of the patient's transfer to Kew have not been recovered to date. Warrants in folders 4 to 12 in Unit One and all warrants in Unit Two are arranged by date of transfer to Kew.

    Access to this series is by date of admission. This information can be found in VPRS 7680 Register of Patients 1871 - 1966

    Warrants for patients admitted between 1905 and 1924 can be located in either VPRS 7456, VPRS 7716 and VPRS 7717.

    Warrants found in VPRS 7456 were transferred from Charles Brothers Museum in 1987 prior to the transfer of the controlling admission registers from Kew Asylum in 1988. These warrants were processed in one sequence chronologically by date of admission as the admission registers were not available to clarify the system of arrangement/control. The remaining warrants, comprising two separate male/female series, were processed to reflect more accurately the record-keeping system in use.

More research resourcesMore research resources
Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
1871 - 1924 Register of Patients VPRS 7680
Controlled SeriesControlled Series
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
Previous SeriesPrevious Series
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Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
Subsequent SeriesSubsequent Series
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Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
- 1905 Admission Warrants, Female Patients VPRS 7717
1905 - 1910 Admission Warrants, Male Patients VPRS 7716
List/s of records in this seriesList/s of records in this series
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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0001 1859 - 1924 Open 78
Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
1871 - 1924 Register of Patients VPRS 7680
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