A Guide to the Amelia County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1795-1902 Amelia County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1795-19021160450

A Guide to the Amelia County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1795-1902

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Barcode number: 1160450


Library of Virginia

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The Library of Virginia
Barcode number
Amelia County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1795-1902
Physical Characteristics
2 folders.
Amelia County (Va.) Circuit Court
Library of Virginia

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Amelia County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1795-1902. Local government records collection, Amelia County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. 23219.

Acquisition Information

Some materials came to the Library of Virginia in a transfer of court papers from Amelia County under accession number 37990.

Historical Information

Mental Health Records may consist of a variety of documents that historically were referred to as lunacy papers in the courthouses of Virginia localities and municipalities.

During its session begun in November 1769, the House of Burgesses passed an act establishing a hospital in Williamsburg for the mentally ill. The Eastern Lunatic Asylum (now Eastern State Hospital) was the first institution in America constructed as a mental hospital. The first patients were admitted in October 1773.

In January 1825 the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation providing for the construction of an asylum in the western part of the state. The institution, which became known as Western Lunatic Asylum, was constructed close to the town of Staunton, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and was the second mental health facility built in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The buildings and surrounding gardens were designed to embrace the idea of "moral therapy" for mentally ill patients by providing an aesthetically pleasing and tranquil atmosphere in which patients lived comfortably, exercised and worked outdoors.

Western Lunatic Asylum opened in 1828, accepting both male and female patients suffering from a variety of mental disorders. It should be noted that the hospital underwent a short-lived name change between 1861 and 1865, when it was known as Central Lunatic Asylum. (It should not be confused with an asylum of the same name later built in Petersburg, Virginia to house African American patients). From 1865 to 1894 the name was again Western Lunatic Asylum. However, in 1894 the General Assembly passed legislation changing the name to Western State Hospital.

Amelia County was named for Amelia Sophia Eleanora, daughter of King George II. It was formed from Prince George and Brunswick Counties by an act passed in 1734 to take effect on 25 March 1735. The county court first met on 9 May 1735. The county seat is Amelia.

Scope and Content

Amelia County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1795-1902, consists of two folders: Mental Health Records and Smallpox Epidemic Records.

Mental Health Records, 1795-1902, is comprised of nine cases which may include warrants, orders, depositions, reports, etc. for or by justices of the peace regarding the mental condition of individuals who were released to the recognizance of a family member or ordered to be committed to a mental hospital. Includes references to Western Lunatic Asylum and Eastern Lunatic Asylum. The earliest items date from 1795 and pertain to the mental state of Henry Anderson, who owned 2,000 acres of land in Amelia County, including the land on which the courthouse stood and from which he received income from the rent of the courthouse building. The latest items date from 1902 and include the deposition of Richard Anderson regarding the mental state of his relative, Charles Anderson. The latter is described as colored in the deposition.

Smallpox Epidemic Records, 1837-1865, contain five items related to meetings and resolutions of justices of the peace dealing with localized smallpox outbreaks.


Chronological by entry date, then alphabetically by last name of individual.

Related Material

Additional Amelia County records can be found on microfilm at the Library of Virginia. Consult A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Amelia County (Va.) Circuit Court.
  • Eastern State Hospital (Va.).
  • Western State Hospital (Va.).
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--Mental health--Virginia--Amelia County.
  • Insanity--Virginia--Amelia County.
  • Mental Illness--Virginia--Amelia County.
  • Physicians--Virginia--Amelia County.
  • Psychiatric hospitals--Virginia.
  • Public Records--Virginia--Amelia County.
  • Public health administration--Virginia.
  • Smallpox--Virginia--Amelia County.
  • Geographical Names:

  • Amelia County (Va.)--History--18th Century.
  • Amelia County (Va.)--History--19th Century.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Health and medical records--Virginia--Amelia County.
  • Local government records--Virginia--Amelia County.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Amelia County (Va.)--History--18th Century.
  • Amelia County (Va.)--History--19th Century.