Willard Asylum: Ovid, New York

The Inmates of Willard: A Genealogy Resource

This blog is in preparation of a new genealogy resource book soon to be published about the Willard Asylum for the Insane and the first generation of Willard Inmates. It was written with genealogy geeks in mind. It is for those who want to glimpse the past, enjoy reading historical documents with little or no interpretation, and want to acquire basic knowledge about Willard in one resource without having to search the Internet to read hundreds of articles to understand what it was about. The most important feature of this book (and blog) is that it includes the names of over 4,000 inmates, something for which geeks are constantly searching. My personal interpretations and transcriptions of the names of the Inmates of Willard from U.S. Federal Censuses for the years 1870, 1880, and 1900, have been disseminated onto spreadsheets that the reader may find an ancestor more easily. The book is a collection of historical documents and laws of the time that tell the most accurate story of the people and politics surrounding the controversial Willard Asylum. Although this book deals with the specifics of Willard and its inmates, the laws, rules, and regulations applied to all county poor houses, city alms houses, and public and private mental institutions in the State of New York. The history of the treatment of the insane belongs to us all.
Besides being genuinely interested in learning more about Willard, I created this book (and blog) for family genealogists like me, frustrated trying to find out if and when their ancestor was a Willard inmate, receiving the runaround obtaining their ancestor’s medical records and photos, and determining whether their ancestor is buried in the Willard Cemetery.

How To Receive Information On Your Ancestor

Form OMH 11 is what you need to obtain your ancestor’s medical record. You also need the cooperation of your family physician to fill out the paperwork. The response to this inquiry will be sent to your physician’s office, not to your home. Please call the Greater Binghamton Health Center and talk with them directly with your questions. GOOD LUCK! This form is available at:
http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/forms/omh11.pdf http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/hipaa/manual/appendix4_omh446.htm http://www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/forms/ Mail or Fax the completed form to:  Greater Binghamton Health Center 425 Robinson Street Binghamton,NY 13904-1775 Phone: (607) 724-1391; Fax: (607) 773-4387; TTY: (607) 773-4255
(Banner photo by Roger Luther at www.nysAsylum.com).
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  1. M. Werner
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    My great Grandfather was an “inmate” at Willard as recorded in the 1920 Census. I hope to get his info using your recommended forms.

  2. Jeanette
    Posted August 16, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I sought my grandmother’s records from roughly 1925 through 1953, when she was a patient there. I was finally told (after they said they did a thorough search) that her records and any subsequent photo, as in later years they took photographs of each patient, had been destroyed. We have no photographs of my grandmother. Please be aware that some of the records have been destroyed.

    Posted September 8, 2012 at 6:27 am | Permalink


  4. Cindy Durning
    Posted February 20, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    My great uncle Henry Bunn show on the 1940 census for being an inmate in Willard and there are no other records of him. I am wondering what ever happened to him as I am doing the family geneology. I was told he went there when he was 18 which would of been much earlier than 40’s. He was 38 in 1940 and from what I have read about this place I am almost positive he is burried there. Could someone please help me I would like to know what happened to my family member.

  5. Pat Chrisfield
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    My second great grandmother lived at Willard. She shows up on the 1880 census and died there in 1893. Previous to Willard, she was confined in the NYS Lunatic Asylum in Utica starting at the young age of only 28. The 1870 census shows her living with her family, but still listed as insane. I just want to find out more. Why would she have landed there with two young children? She remained married to her husband, my second great grandfather the whole time. He was a minister. Can anyone give me information or guidance on how to find out more?

  6. Richard Fowler
    Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    I’m researching Webster Bauder, who was an inmate at Willard State Hospital from the 1890s until at least 1910. He was from St Johnsville, NY and was born about 1841. Any info from the time he moved to Buffalo, NY in the 1870s throughout his time in the asylum would be a huge help.
    Any pointers on researching life at Willard during his time there would be equally appreciated.

  7. ronald e clark
    Posted May 22, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    looking info. on nellie m clark albee she was married to frank f albee she died in willard in march 1915 she was born in lindley ny 1862 to james and sarah clark

  8. Victoria Germond
    Posted January 25, 2016 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    Trying to find out information and any records o
    n my mothers time spent at Willard in the early 1960’s. Can you recommend sources where I might find more information of her stay at the hospital.

    Thank you,
    Vickie Germond

  9. Posted June 10, 2016 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Looking for information about Edna Dempsey – Trumansburg, NY
    Died at Willard January 1963.
    Probably been there since WWI.
    Family asked/told not to come after a few visits because Edna out of touch.

    Thank you.
    J. True

  10. donald zrebiec
    Posted September 2, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    My grandmother died at willard after a 37 year stay. I am being told her records are sealed. Much to my surprise I just read a book called “What They Left Behind”. I suggest anyone with a relative who was a patient there read this book. It contains detailed descriptions of the lives of several Willard patients including letters from family members, medical notes from doctors, interviews with the patients, etc. When I asked the NYS Mental Health bureaucracy how the authors obtained such information, I was told one of the authors was an employee of the state when he wrote the book. If he can get this kind of information I am puzzled and disturbed that I cannot get information on my Grandmother. I think Willard families need to file a class action suit to get these records. It seems like the “Seal” doesn’t apply to everyone.

  11. Agnieszka
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m a researcher trying to uncover the biography of a writer who I have reasons to believe was an “inmate” at Willard in the 1930s and 40s. Is it possible for someone like me to access his file? I really want to tell his story which seems completely repressed and buried… Thank you for any help you’re able to offer!

  12. carol lavigne
    Posted November 12, 2017 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    my great Aunt Kathleen Delap was listed on the 1940’s census I have searched everything but come up with nothing,I want to know did she die there?was she released from this facilty,PLEASE SOMEONE HAS TO KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT THESE POOR SOUL’S.

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