Thursday, November 5, 2009


The new issue of Connections: The Hoosier Genealogist from the Indiana Historical Society -- arguably the best genealogical journal between the coasts -- has a fascinating pair of cover stories. The first, by Elizabeth Flynn, details the history of mental health care in the state; the second, by Alan January of the State Archives, describes the histories of the various state facilities, their many records, and how the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has made them very difficult to access.

Key point: Indiana law opened most records to the public after 75 years; under HIPAA all individually identifiable health records are closed forever (although there may be ways around this on a case-by-case basis, depending on your state). The magazine carefully blacked out the name of an individual from a document about her release from the Indiana Hospital for the Insane in 1863, in order to protect her privacy.

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