Mayview State Hospital in Allegheny County, PA, to Close

Why am I blogging the close of a state hospital in a genealogy-related blog? Because thousands of our relatives were born, lived and died at this facility. The Mayview State Hospital started in the 1893, known as Marshalsea, aptly named for for the famous London debtors prison. The 80 buildings on 335 acres in Bridgeville, Pennsylvania was preceded by Pittsburgh’s almshouse, on the same property. The poor, the orphaned, the unwed & pregnant, the tubercular, the insane, mentally retarded and others lived here on the banks of the Monongahela.

They kept records at Mayville that recorded the life events of patients who lived and died there. Where will the records go? Hopefully to the State Archives in Harrisburg.

Joe Fahy wrote a fascinating article for the December 28, 2008 Pittsburgh Gazette about the history and the closing of the facility. You might want to check it out.

33 thoughts on “Mayview State Hospital in Allegheny County, PA, to Close

  1. Looking for medical records on an aunt of mine, named Mary Elizabeth Robertson. I think born in 1908. What we have heard, had a nervous breakdown and had a labotomy maybe when she was about 25, around 1933 or so? Where should I look?

  2. I am not sure where to start looking for medical records. Wanting to find out her diagnosis and treatments.

  3. I am looking for any or all interment records for Mayview Cemetery. I am looking for the record for my grand grandmother’s second husband, John Temple, who died there in 1941, but I do not have an exact date. New Castle has no death certificate on him and when I talked to Bonnie LoPresti about it before the closure, she had no records on him at all.

  4. I am looking for a list of residents at Marshalsea from 1910 to 1920. I do have a newpapers article that show my husbands grandmother was there and died there of tuberculosis. However we cannot locate his grandfather anywhere. Do you know where I can get a list of patients names or death certificates. Mother is Etta McMillen husband is Charles McMillen. Any information would help us so much to put some closure to these two beloved people.

  5. We are looking for medical records for my husband’s father who died at Mayview on June 27, 1970 according to his death certificate. His name was Henry Hernandez age 52. ss355-10-8560. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  6. I had an ancestor named John Temple that was admitted there as a paraplegic until his death in 1941, but I do have the date. I cannot find any death or interment records on him, whatsoever. PA Vital Records has nothing on his death and the State Archives has been no help at all, saying that they cannot find any information on him at all. He was born in Scotland on April 14, 1876, if that is of any help.

    Thank you for anyone who will step up to the plate and give me some information on this man.

  7. Also wondering about medical records. My gm, Agnes Newark Moore born 1891, apparently was there mulitple times. I know she was there once, have photo of her walking and the large round light at the entrance has the letters MAY… on it.

    I suspect I can’t find her on the 1930 census because she was there; were the patients not recorded during the census??

  8. Hunting information on a Mary Reilly, probably there sometime
    after it opened. Theres an addendum to her mothers will
    stating lunacy. Assuming she went to Mayview. Mothers maiden name
    Fay, Marys actual name was Mary Fitzgerald Fay Reilly.

  9. I believe they were on the census. My GG Grandfather is on the 1910 census. It states he was an inmate in Allegheny County at the home. I am also looking for somewhere to turn to get records. Andrew Williams if you have any info. Thanks!

  10. I too am looking for patient files at Mayview. I was recently in Penna. and drove through the grounds of Mayview before being asked to leave because I was trespassing. The gentleman wasnot helpful and slightly rude. The person I am looking for was named Anna and she “worked” for my grandmother as part of an out patient work program at Mayview as far as I can piece together. I would like to know why she was there, her diagnosis and when she died. I am now a Supervisor for an agency in Sonoma County,California working with the developmentally disabiled. I strongly believe I owe my career choice to Anna who cared for me when I was very young. In a way she became my special friend and mentor. Please help me find any information possible that would lead to the final resting place of Anna. Suzette Ciaffoni- Soviero, formerly of Canonsburg, Penna.

  11. Hi All, My grandfather grew up in an orphange in PA and they just released some records to me which she his mother, Helen broskey or Helen Bigenho or Helen Bigenko (spelling was different thruought the documents.
    I’d like to find out what type of treatment she received and even more so, did she passway in the hospital but was then later released.

    Looking into the geneaology of my past.

  12. My grandmother, Helen Elizabeth Getz worked at Mayview. I’m not sure in what capacity, but the stories I recall sounded as if it were a caregiver position of some sort. I don’t know all the years that she was there, but I know she was working there in the early/mid 1970s. Unfortunately she is long passed away. I wish she were here to help with some of the questions so we could all learn more about this hospital and it’s patients.

  13. I found this resource located in the Pennsylvania state archives.

    What is included:

    # Mayview State Hospital

    * Admission Book of the Insane Department of the Pittsburgh North Side City Home, 1911-1916. (1 volume) {#23.232} (Description)
    * Admission Registers, 1925-1941. (3 volumes) {#23.233} (Description)
    * Alms House Registers, 1876-1884. (2 volumes) {#23.234} (Description)
    * Alphabetical Admission and Discharge Register, 1850-1881. (1 volume) {#23.235} (Description)
    * Case Book of Allegheny City Farm, 1884-1887. (1 volume) {#23.236} (Description)
    * Case Books of Pittsburgh City Home and Hospital, 1879-1912. (23 volumes) {#23.237} (Description)
    * Death Registers, 1939-1956. (3 volumes) {#23.238} (Description)
    * Patient History Books, 1879-1884. (2 volumes) {#23.239} (Description)
    * Register of Discharges and Deaths, 1950-1958. (1 volume) {#23.240} (Description)

    Hope that helps everyone. If anyone comes across Oliver Bollinger’s records, a patient there in 1930 and is willing to copy them for me I would greatly appreciate it.

  14. I was a patient there for two years. I had electric shock treatments there and it was the scariest time of my life. I am trying to get my records from there, Any ideas? Contact me at

  15. I am looking for Great Grandmother wilhelmina “minnie” Charlotta Garling COLE. She died around 1933

  16. I am looking for any information on Anna Kovensky who was a resident at Mayview. I think she passed away in the mid 1980’s. Thank you for your help!

  17. I received my Great grandmothers death certificate FINALLY from PA state records. She died in 1936 at Mayview Hospital. It says she died of brain hemorrhage and that a secondary cause was senile psychosis and something else I cant read. SHe was put in there around 1911 by her husband, who divorced her and remarried a much younger woman, who happened to be a nurse. Whether at that hospital I don’t know. What I do know is that she was from Germany and was pretty much erased from all his records. The death cert says she was divorced but does not list his name. It neither lists her Mother’s maiden name ( unknown on the certificate) but it does list her father and that both her parents were born in Germany. It mistakenly lists her as being born in Pittsburgh. The “informant” of her death is not a family member. SO, I think the poor soul was abandoned by her family and left to die there. It does say she was buried in Homewood cemetery so I plan a visit there to find her grave. I do know that when she was young, her second child died in a horrible accident and this is probably what sent her over the edge.

  18. FYI, Mayview was NOT “on the banks of the Monongahela”–it was built in its then remote location when the riverside land all became valuable industrial locations. Joe Fahy’s article details its previous locations and name.

  19. So I am also looking for information on several of my relatives who journeyed thru Mayview State hosptial in their time back in the 30’s and 40’s. I was able to locate where the Medical Records were transfered too after the closing of the facility. All of the Medical Records were transfered to Torrance State Hospital. I spoke with a less then kind lady there that told me unless I was the execuitor of the will that I would not be allowed to obtain any of the records for my family members. I hope this helps those who are looking for the records. I’m only sorry to say that you will not be able to obtain them.

  20. Although the prospects don’t look good, thanks for the tip on where medical records were transferred for Mayview residents. My husband is a retired physician and I thought perhaps he could get medical records to get around the HIPPA rules.

    I am trying to gather information on a great aunt who died at Mayview. She was admitted around 1950. I knew her as Aunt Chris but not sure if that was her given first name. She is on the 1940 census as Ruth, my grandfather’s sister. The last name is possibly Haines or even Haneline. There was a name change in the family and she had a breakdown after the breaking off of an affair with Senator Carter Glass of Lynchburg, VA. (So the family story goes). One reason for me doing genealogy research.

    I’m trying to find out where those who died at Mayview were buried. I’m assuming she became a ward of the state after she was committed. I’m also wondering if there are court records that would have had to have been signed to complete the process and if they are obtainable.

    Any insights or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  21. Judy Harris, my great great grandmother, Ida Alletta Pross, died at Mayview in 1922 and was buried at Allegheny Cemetery. I visited the cemetery and confirmed she was buried there, but I could not find the plaque on the ground. I believe the state paid for her burial.

    See Briar’s comment above dated October 22, 2010 for what records are available and for which dates. The Pennsylvania State Archives has these records. You want to ask for Record Group 23. These records are considered “restricted”. Only a direct family member is permitted access to the medical information. However, the Archives will provide you with admission date, discharge or death date and any other genealogical related material (e.g. if they were committed to the institution by a relative, and the name of that relative, etc). The fee is $15.00 – 25.00 for the search and photocopying. You will have to fill out a request form and it is helpful to have the patient #. If you don’t know it the staff can look it up. It takes about 4-6 weeks to have the research done. Contact PA State Archives at(717)783-3281 or visit the Archives located at the corner of 3rd and Forster Streets, Harrisburg Wednesdays-Fridays, 9am – 4pm The folks there are very nice and helpful.

  23. Yes, I would like to know where I can find records of my Grandfather who was there as well. I think he may have died there around 1948. His name was William Rump. I have no idea where he is buried or any information regarding his issue. It seems the family wanted to keep it private because of shame.

  24. In the long run of a relative of a relative that married into a branch of our family back in late 1800’s, she had a son that was placed in this Mayview Home/Hospital. He was born in 1883 and in 1912 died there. On his death cert, says dementia. Seems awfully young for that. What amazes me is how many people ended up with hemmorhages from “falls” or whatever. I do not beleive it was from falls more likely from lobotomy, electic shock or pure meanness and cruelty to them for not complying to orders by the staff.

  25. Hi my ggUncles wife was committed there. Did not know this till I found her death Certificate. She fell Or Jumped from a 3rd story window there. Her name on death cert. is Celia Stasik. Woukld love to know how we can obtain any other information…..

  26. I am trying to find information on a Marie Bittner (1904-1979), she was an “inmate” (hate that term) there, listed on the 1940 Census. I would like to know how long she was there, why she was there and her medical history.

  27. I am looking for medical records on my step-grandfather. Charles Sylvester McElroy. He was a patient at Mayview in 1930. He died in 1939. I believe he died at Mayview but no proof. How can I request his record?

  28. In the process of doing a family tree, I discovered that my great-grandfather died at Mayview Hospital in 1929. His death certificate is signed by a James Hammers, Medical Director & Superintendent, Mayview. I have read that Mayview was originally a hospital for the poor, and I am trying to find out if it were still so in 1929 when my great-grandfather died. I have never heard of him having any mental health difficulties, and the cause of death is listed as cancer. Does anyone know when Mayview ceased being a hospital for the poor and then was exclusively a mental health facility? Ironically, I worked at Mayview State Hospital in the 1970s as a Social Worker. If only I had had these questions back then, maybe I could have found some answers. Maybe.

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