New York State Commission in Lunacy Medical Certificates of Lunacy

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

The State Commission in Lunacy licensed, regulated and investigated public and private institutions that provided care of the state's mentally ill. This series consists of one volume of medical certificates for persons admitted to mental health facilities. Information includes patient name, sex, nativity, color, occupation, cause of illness, relevant family history, basis for insanity certification, institution name, and admission date. Records are restricted.
0.5 cubic feet (1 volume)
Inclusive Dates:
Series Number:


Chronological by admission date.

Administrative History

The State Commission in Lunacy was established pursuant to Chapter 283, Laws of 1889 (as amended by Chapter 273, Laws of 1890) and empowered to license, regulate and investigate public and private institutions that provided for the care of the state's mentally ill. It was charged with investigating the care and treatment of patients, the condition of physical facilities and the management of all such institutions; and establishing rules and regulations it deemed necessary and/or desirable to insure the proper care of patients. In addition, the commission was required to maintain a record of all judges and medical examiners who were legally qualified to order the commitment of an insane person; and to register all of the insane in custodial care.

Scope and Content Note

This series consists of true copies of medical certificates of lunacy for each person admited to a mental health facility. A standard form promulgated by the Commission in Lunacy, shortly after its creation, signed and attested to by a legally qualified examiner, the certificate provides: patient name, sex, nativity, color, occupation, cause of illness, relevant family history, the basis for the certification of insanity, the name of the institution, and the date of admission. This volume is the first of what was presumably an ongoing series that covered the commission's tenure through 1912. The existence and location of subsequent volumes is unknown.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Restricted in accordance with Mental Hygiene Law, Section 33.13, relating to confidentiality of clinical records. Access is permitted under certain conditions upon approval by the Office of Mental Health.

Related Information

Related Materials

Series B1429 Willard State Hospital Medical Certificate of Lunacy (Commitment) Papers, 1869-1927, contains commitment papers for care at Willard Asylum, 1869-1897.

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