How to find out medical history of a dead grandparent?
February 1, 2006 7:26 AM Subscribe
Is there any way to find out my grandfather's medical / criminal history when a) I know almost nothing about him and b) He's been dead since 1994?
I'm researching my family's genealogy, which is proving difficult since there is so little known beyond my parents. My dad hardly knew his father and he either doesn't remember anything, doesn't know everything, or is reluctant to discuss it. I've never even seen a picture of him.
I've heard conflicting stories about what happened to my grandfather. Some involving criminal acts and some involving family feuds. One thing I do know is that he was institutionalized at some point in the late 50s - early 60s, was probably shuffled around a bit through the years, and ended up dying in the care of a nursing home. His grave is probably just a stone in some state plot with nothing but a number on it. There are no living relatives who can (or will) provide me with any information.
I've done some searches of local major newspapers which turned up nothing. The crime that may have been committed was probably not big enough to be a major news story back then. I don't believe he spent time in prison, though I'm not positive, I think he was committed instead.
One of the state hospitals I was told he spent time at (Medfield State) has since been closed. The nursing home he died at is also closed. I do not know the location of any other hospitals or homes he spent time at. There must have been a file on him at some point, listing the reasons why he was there. Any records, if they still exist, are probably in a basement somewhere.
So am I SOL? Is there someplace where these records might be archived? Who do I call? Would a private investigator be able to find these? What would such a service cost? Perhaps a sympathetic state employee, if I could find one, could help me out? There are those "instant background check" services, but I expect they're mostly a scam.
Relevant info: I'm in Massachusetts and I'm 99.99% sure everything that occurred happened within the state. The family settled here from Italy (my Great-Grandfather, but that will probably be next week's question) and never left. I have a few facts obtained from vital records (date of birth, death, SSN, etc), I know where he lived, but not much else.
For some reason I can't explain, this is very important to me. I was brought up with no sense of family history and I want to change that. There are also practical reasons for wanting to know about this, in case there's some mental illness I should be aware of.