Rare Book & Manuscript Library

The New York Bloomingdale Insane Asylum records, 1880-1910

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1988
Bib ID 14329111 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Bloomingdale Asylum for the Insane
Title The New York Bloomingdale Insane Asylum records, 1880-1910
Physical Description 5 Linear Feet (Eight volumes in individual cmi cases; 1 document box; 2 prints and 2 mounted letters in 3 oversize folders (in Mapcase 15-H-15))
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on site.



Content Description

Eight large ledgers that record nearly 750 case studies of both female and male inmates, with their medical histories, background information, patient notes, and, in many instances, photographs.

The earliest two volumes cover a consecutive period from 1880 through 1885, and contain the cases of nearly 300 women, including two with photographs. Three volumes from the 1890s all contain photographs of the inmates -- usually a single image, occasionally two. These comprise two volumes of female patients and one of male patients, listing 255 women, with 108 photos, and 138 men, with sixty-four photos. The final volume covers December 1908 to December 1909, and describes fifty-nine women and their cases.

Also, "History, Description and Statistics of the Bloomingdale Asylum for the Insane" (New York, 1848) and Guide for the Attendants at the Bloomingdale Asylum for the Insane (New York, 1844) which has been annotated and updated in the 1890s; Two manuscript documents relating to the Asylum, a later framed manuscript map of the grounds, and a lithograph of the Asylum buildings.

  • Series I: Admission Records and Daily History

    Each volume begins with an alphabetic index of patients, which is cross referenced to numbered pages in the volume. Each case history comprises two or more pages. The case hitories begin with a printed form filled out in manuscript upon admission. This form comtains 50 items, such as: Name of Patient; Date of Admission; Occupation; Habits; Sucicidal Tendencies; Insane Relations and Inheritance; Approved by Judge, etc.

    Following the printed items are detailed case notes, sometimes accompanied by a photograph of the patient, letters of referral, and status of patient (discharged, transferred, or deceased).

  • Series II: Case Books (Continued from Daily History)

  • Series III: Letters, Prints, and Printed

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is located on site.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); The New York Bloomingdale Insane Asylum Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Bob Scott on the Bloomingdale Asylum. Morningside Heights Digital History. Columbia University Libraries.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed by Patrick T. Lawlor on 1/14/2020.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Case histories Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Mentally ill -- New York (State) -- New York Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Psychiatric hospitals Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

The asylum was established as a private institution in New York City during the early 19th century, and was the only facility of its kind in the state. By the 1830s, it maintained a large, thriving operation in northern Manhattan that housed more than 100 inmates. In 1890 the asylum relocated to White Plains, and sold its Manhattan property to Columbia University, which established its present-day main campus on the site. This archive, with materials dating from 1880 to 1910, spans thirty years and two locations of the asylum.