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Ask a Genealogist: Mental health record access in Massachusetts.

(Massachusetts) Permanent link
 

Question:

Is it true that even mental health records from a century ago are closed in Massachusetts? I am looking for a case held at the Mass. State Archives for a state hospital from the 1920's.

Answer:

 According to the Massachusetts State Archives both medical and mental health records are restricted by state laws (MGL c. 4, § 7 (26) (a), MGL c. 4, § 7(26) (c), MGL c.111 § 70, and MGL c.123, § 36), even after the death of the individual.  A court order may be obtained to allow you access to information in the case file.  You can visit your local probate court to obtain this.  This court order therefore makes you the administrator of the estate.  The administrator is is one of the legal individuals permitted access to the case file via the state laws.  This court order is then submitted to the Massachusetts State Archives.  They will then give it to the Public Records Supervisor.  After the approval from the Public Records Supervisor, the records would be made accessible to you, in accordance with the court order.
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