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Central Islip State Hospital – 1925 New York State Census

Project Director: Rhoda Miller, Ed.D., CG
Sponsored by the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island

Dedicated to my Great Grandmother, Gussie Gross.
Central Islip State Hospital patient, March 5, 1921 - January 6, 1946.

Background
Re-transcription Project
Data Analysis
Searching the Database
Selected Bibliography
Cemetery
Volunteers

Background

Opened in 1889 as the New York City Farm for the Insane, Central Islip State Hospital (CISH) became the largest psychiatric institution in New York State and perhaps the world.  An 1896 Legislative Act transferred New York City Asylums to New York State under the name Manhattan State Hospital at Central Islip.  Facilities increasingly expanded to the extent that they functioned as a small self-contained city including a Long Island Railroad spur, farm, firehouse, etc.  The patients are of significant interest to researchers.  The 1925 New York State census represents the hospital during a peak period.  In 1996, New York State closed the hospital as part of the restructure of the care of psychiatric patients.

History of the Re-transcription Project

When this project commenced, there was not an index to names for those enumerated in the New York State 1925 census.  The only way to find a specific person was to scroll through microfilm for the 121 pages of the census representing 6,017 lines of census data that includes patients and resident employees.

Conducted under the auspices of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island (JGSLI), volunteers were solicited to transcribe the census into an Excel spreadsheet containing each column of data.  Some census columns were deconstructed into multiple columns, to permit better search capability and analysis of the data.

When approximately half of the data was transcribed, Ancestry.com released a transcribed database and the images on their subscription website.  After debate, consultation, and searches, it was determined that there were significant errors in the Ancestry.com transcription which inhibited researchers.  One such example is my great grandmother, Gussie Gross, who is enumerated on page 27 line 2, and transcribed as "Gussie Guss".  As such, she could not be located in a typical soundex search.

Much to the favor of the re-transcription project, the entire institution was enumerated by one person, namely, Catherine Graham.  Therefore, there were considerable opportunities to "understand" her handwriting and make judgments in discrepancies that were hopefully accurate.

That being said, this re-transcription will still contain errors.  An attempt was made to remain faithful to the spelling as handwritten rather than allow common sense to make the decision.  In many cases, it was felt that the error was made from the original source to Catherine Graham's enumeration.  Again, decisions were made as faithful to the census recording as possible.


Above: Original Census Image

Source Citation: New York State Archives, Albany, New York: New York State Archives. State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Census Place: Election District 15, Assembly District 02, Islip, Suffolk County, page 27.

At Right: Ancestry.com's Transcription
Retrieved from Ancestry.com February 10, 2013.

With assurance from JewishGen.org that they would host the re-transcribed CISH database within their "JewishGen USA Database", the project proceeded to its conclusion.  It is particularly noteworthy that the Jewish population was presumed to be relatively small, perhaps 10%.  Furthermore, this project was a full transcription of the census which frequently includes an address as well as the place and date of naturalization.  Both of these items are significant to genealogy researchers.

Discrepancy Frequency
JGSLI 1,286
Ancestry.com 951
split 107
TOTAL 2,344

There are 6,017 lines of census data, which includes both employees and patients.  Each volunteer's transcription was compared with that of Ancestry.com.  There was a discrepancy in 2,344 given or surname items, representing 39% of the census of Central Islip State Hospital.  The frequency of the adjudication is described in the table below.  There were 107 instances where there was a discrepancy split between the given and surnames with one of each favoring either JGSLI or Ancestry.com.

Data Analysis

Although identifying patients as Jewish is not explicitly stated in this census, we created two frequency tables — for the most commonly occurring surnames, and for countries of origin for those not born in the United States — which appear below.  The data in these two tables represent patients only; employees were excluded from these counts.

SurnameFrequency
SMITH41
MILLER30
BROWN26
KELLY20
SULLIVAN20
WHITE20
WALSH19
JOHNSON18
WILLIAMS18
COHEN16
JONES15
LEVINE14
MARTIN14
MURRAY14
HOFFMAN13
MURPHY13
WEISS13
RYAN12
THOMPSON12
CARROLL11
KLEIN11
MC CARTHY11
SCHMIDT11
CLARK10
DALY10
FRIEDMAN10
GOLDSTEIN10
HARRIS10
JACOBS10
O'BRIEN10
SCHNEIDER10
CountryFrequency
Russia543
Ireland513
Germany455
Austria287
Italy267
Hungary137
Poland98
England92

Searching the Database

This data can be searched via the JewishGen USA Database.

Database Column Headings: The following column headings appear in the search results of the New York State 1925 Census:
  • Census Page Number
  • Census Line Number
  • Street Name
  • House Number
  • Surname
  • Given Name
  • Relationship — (Could be the personís relationship in their household, e.g.: Head of Household, Wife, etc., or role at hospital, e.g.: Patient or Employee).
  • Race / Color — (Black (B), Japanese (J), or White (W)).
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Nationality
  • Years in United States
  • Citizen (C) / Alien (A)
  • Where Naturalized
  • When Naturalized
  • Occupation
  • Class — (Works for someone else as an employee (W), works on own account (OA), or unemployed (X)).
  • Resident City
  • Resident State
  • Resident Country

Search Strategies: Should an exact name search or a soundex not return an expected result, consider the following search strategies or alternatives:

  • Confusion between the consonants "r" and "v", as well as "h" and "b" and "k".
  • Vowel discrepancies should not pose a problem with a soundex search.
  • A space was created between MC, MAC, DI, and O' and the remainder of the surname.  Apostrophes were omitted when the enumerator did not write them.
  • All fields of the 1925 census are searchable.
  • Original census should be consulted.  It can be found at www.ancestry.com and www.familysearch.org.

Selected Bibliography

  • 1925 New York State Census, New York State, Suffolk County, Town of Islip, AD 2, ED 15, Sheets 8-129.  New York State Library, Albany, NY.

  • Knapp, Florence E. S.  Census of 1925, regulations and instructions.  New York State Library Digital Collections. New York State Government Documents. Department of State.  Available as a PDF document via the New York State Library Digital Collections: http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/.  Retrieved February 14, 2013.

  • Pulling, Sr. Anne Frances.  Around Central Islip.  Dover, NH: Arcadia Publishing 1998.

  • Pulling, Sr. Anne Frances.  Central Islip, My Home Town.  Central Islip, NY: Jo-Lar Lithographing 1976.

  • Patient Records are held by the New York State Office of Mental Health.  Contact this agency for information regarding patient records.  http://www.omh.ny.gov/omhweb/contact.  Expect to encounter limited access due to privacy issues.

Cemetery

Pre-1980 burials of indigent patients were on Central Islip State Hospital grounds.  Grave markers bore only the last four digits of the patient number, not the name.  These gravestones are now underground (they have sunk and become grassed over) and only a few are visible.  There is a maintained dedicated Jewish cemetery portion.  The gravestones have been photographed and entered into the JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR), hosted by www.JewishGen.org.  The cemetery is maintained by New York State and kept locked.  For entrance, contact Rabbi Melvyn Lerer (631) 761-2825.  The Men's Club of the North Shore Jewish Center, Port Jefferson Station, NY makes an annual pilgrimage to the cemetery as a community service project.

Volunteers

Much appreciation is offered to the dedicated group of volunteer transcribers.  A special thank you is offered to Ava Gorkin, Susan Kalish and Amanda Rodriguez, who continuously offered to take on more groups of pages to transcribe.

The transcribers, in alphabetical order, are: Carol Abrahamer, Diane Berg, James Boeri, Jennifer Buonasera, Marianne Callahan, Jessica Cavanagh, Jennifer DiGrazia, Les Goldschmitt, Ava Gorkin, Diane Haberstroh, Susan Kalish, Krystal Michelsen, Kayla Mueger, Karen Munoz, Charles Olsen, Matthew Ostermann, Catherine Pattay, Samantha Polistina, Deborah Pomeraenke, Kiran Ram, Toni Raptis, Amanda Rodriguez, Bonnie Schwartz, Jane Ventimiglia, Kristin Smith, Beverly Weinberg, Chuck Weinstein, Jessica Witt, Patrick Wood, and Barbara Zimmer.

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