American Indian Health Records
The responsibility for the health care of American Indians was assigned to the Office of Indian Affairs from the late 1840s. That office attempted to assist the Native Americans by providing health care and education for them. Physicians, nurses, and teachers were assigned to many of the reservations to teach sanitation and prevention of diseases.
These individuals reported health concerns to the Office of Indian Affairs Agent on the reservation, who, in turn, passed the information along to the Commissioner’s Office in his correspondence and reports. These letters and reports often mentioned individual Indians by name, the location of their residence, and something of the health problem. These records were far from a complete record of everyone living on the reservation, however.
Perhaps the most complete record of health kept prior to 1934 was the “Sanitary Record of Sick, Injured, Births, Deaths, etc.” Sometimes the word “Wounded” was substituted for “Injured.” These records may be listed in inventories under other names such as physician’s reports or sick ledgers.
Other health records, not as commonly kept, may have been compiled, such as an “Individual Health Record” or a “Household Record.”
Indian health facilities were created, including clinics on reservations, health sanatoriums, and hospitals. Some of these facilities focused on specific health issues, such as tuberculosis, mental health, etc. and included:
- Canton Insane Asylum
- Choctaw and Chickasaw Hospital
- Claremore Hospital
- Fort Lapwai Sanatorium
- Laguna Sanatorium
- Phoenix Sanatorium
- Pyramid Lake Sanatorium
- Sac and Fox Sanatorium
- San Xavier Sanatorium
- Tacoma Hospital
- Winslow Sanatorium
- Byers, Paula K., ed. Native American Genealogical Sourcebook. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1995.