Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Inventory of the Department of Mental Hygiene - Stockton State Hospital Records
View entire collection guide What's This?
PDF (87.64 Kb) HTML
Search this collection
Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Administrative History
  • Scope and Content
  • Accruals
  • Related Collections at the California State Archives
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Department of Mental Hygiene - Stockton State Hospital Records
    Dates: 1852-1994
    Collection number: R320
    Creator: Stockton State Hospital, 1851-1853; Insane Asylum of California, 1853-1897; State Commission in Lunacy-Stockton State Hospital, 1897-1921; Department of Institutions-Stockton State Hospital, 1921-1945; Department of Mental Hygiene - Stockton State Hospital; Department of Health-Stockton State Hospital, 1973-1978; Department of Developmental Services-Stockton State Hospital, 1978-1986; Department of Developmental Services-Stockton Developmental Center, 1986-1994
    Collection Size: 132 bound volumes, 17 file folders, 247 photographs, 520 photographic negatives, 1554 photographic slides, and 1 audiocassette tape.
    Repository: California State Archives
    Sacramento, California
    Abstract: Stockton State Hospital first opened its doors in 1851, and remained a functioning state hospital until 1995. The records of the Department of Mental Hygiene-Stockton State Hospital cover the years 1852-1994 and consist of over 130 bound volumes, one cubic foot of textual records, and over 2,300 photographic prints, negatives and slides.
    Physical location: California State Archives
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Administrative Information


    While the majority of the records are open for research, any access restrictions are noted in the record series descriptions.

    Publication Rights

    For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives collections.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Department of Mental Hygiene-Stockton State Hospital Records, R320.[series number (item number)], [box and folder number], California State Archives, Office of the Secretary of State, Sacramento, California.

    Acquisition and Custodial History

    The California State Archives acquired the Department of Mental Hygiene-Stockton State Hospital Records in a series of transfers according to state law.

    Administrative History

    Stockton State Hospital first opened its doors in 1851. Established just one year after the California entered the United States, and just a few years after the Gold Rush, state lawmakers worked to create a hospital that would provide general care to the tremendous number of residents that had recently moved into the northern regions of the state. Though Stockton served as an effective general hospital in its early years, lawmakers soon realized that citizens with mental health concerns also needed proper facilities.
    As early as May 1852, the State Legislature ordered Stockton State Hospital to specifically care for the state's mental health patients, in addition to the general patients already under the hospital's care (Chapter 67, Statutes of 1852). One year later, under the supervision of Dr. Robert K. Reid, the hospital's first superintendent, Stockton State Hospital shifted its practices away from general health care and officially became California's first hospital specifically dedicated to mental health practice (Chapter 149, Statutes 1853).
    Stockton State Hospital was overseen by a variety of departments during its 143 years as an institution for mental health. The State Commission in Lunacy, established in 1897, originally oversaw Stockton State Hospital (also known as the Insane Asylum of California) until 1921. After 1921, the department designated to oversee state hospitals in California was re-named the Department of Institutions and Stockton State Hospital fell under its jurisdiction (Chapter 610, Statutes of 1921). In 1945, the Department of Institutions became the Department of Mental Hygiene and remained so until 1973 (Chapter 665, Statutes of 1945).
    In 1973, the State of California made an attempt to more effectively administer the complex and interrelated programs of physical and mental health and consolidate these programs under one department called the Department of Health (Chapter 1593, Statutes of 1971). This consolidation, unfortunately, proved to be adverse, especially to patients with mental health needs. In 1978, the Department of Health was reevaluated, then segmented into several smaller and specifically directed departments, including the Department of Mental Health, Department of Developmental Services, Department of Social Services, Department of Health Services, Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (Chapter 1252, Statutes of 1977). At this time, the Stockton State Hospital was placed under the Department of Developmental Services.
    In 1986, Stockton State Hospital was renamed the Stockton Developmental Center (Chapter 224, Statutes of 1986) and remained open for ten more years, until the fiscal year of 1995-1996, when it officially closed its doors due to downsizing of the State's Developmental Centers under the Coffelt Settlement Agreement (Governor's Budget, 1996).

    Scope and Content

    The records of the Department of Mental Hygiene-Stockton State Hospital cover the years 1852-1994 and consist of over 130 bound volumes, one cubic foot of textual records, and over 2,300 photographic prints, negatives and slides.
    The bound volumes are organized into the following record series: Board of Director Meeting Minutes, Commitment Registers, Patient Indexes, Daily Medical Reports, Discharge/Parole/Patient Death Volumes, Financial Volumes, Dr. Robert K. Reid Medical Journals, and a Map Book of San Joaquin County from 1912. The majority of volumes come from the Patient Index and Commitment Register Series, which are especially relevant to the researcher with an interest in the medical history of individual patients under the care of Stockton State Hospital.
    Other record series within the record group include Biennial and Annual Reports, Hospital History Files, Correspondence, Maps, and Newsletters. These records cover the period between 1919 and 1965. The photographs, negatives, and slides within the record group cover the years between approximately 1912 and the l980s, with the majority of the images coming from the hospital under its identity as the Stockton Developmental Center.
    At the time of this writing, most of the images within the Photographs Series are restricted from public research under California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 5328 because they contain confidential patient information. Patient confidentiality laws may also restrict bound and unbound records from this collection.
    The researcher with an interest in the history of the mental health profession will find the Department of Mental Hygiene-Stockton State Hospital records particularly useful. Stockton State Hospital has the designation of being the California's oldest institution dedicated to mental health. As a result, the records reveal very different medical practices from those currently used within the mental health profession. For example, sterilization of hospital patients often occurred regardless of a patient's mental disposition.
    In addition, some of the earliest Stockton State Hospital records document patient delusions, which are often reflective of the time in which they occurred. Within the documents, there are the descriptions of several patients who believe their mental illness to be a result of an adverse reaction to electricity, for example.
    The Department of Mental Hygiene-Stockton State Hospital records may also be relevant to the genealogical researcher. Many records reveal a patient's full name, nationality, and home address at the time of institutionalization. The earliest patients to stay at Stockton State Hospital were often born outside of California and outside of the United States. A researcher may trace ancestral history within the State of California through Stockton State Hospital records.


    No further accruals expected.

    Related Collections at the California State Archives

    Artifacts from the Stockton Developmental Center- Department of Developmental Services. See Accession number 96-03-07.
    Dept. of Finance Records
    Dept. of Mental Hygiene Records
    Dept. of Public Works Records
    Dept. of Developmental Services

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Mental health
    Stockton State Hospital (Calif.)
    Mental illness--Treatment