5 Replies Latest reply on Apr 16, 2021 10:20 AM by Larry French

    Seeking records & Information about Joseph French

    Larry French Newbie

      I am seeking Records and Information about my grandfather Joseph "Joe" Preston French. He disappeared and we haven't been able to locate him. His DOB was 12-25-1875 or 1876.  He was born in Charlotte, NC.  In the 1930 census he was living in Washington DC at John Marshall Place.  His wife moved to MD but no record of him after that that we can find.  In the 1940 census I did find a Joseph French as a resident in St Elizabeth's Hospital.  It indicated that he was married and his age was 61 years old (that would make his birth more in the 1878-79 range.  It also says his birthplace was Virginia and he was born in NC.  He and his wife were married in Virginia and they lived in Danville & Newport News, Va.  So not sure if this is the right "Joe" French. 


      Are there patient records that would indicated if this is the correct Joe French?  His wife was Addie Belle Hill Lavender French.  Would there be records of his death and could he possibly be buried in the hospital cemetery?  Our family would appreciate any information or suggestions as to how to find answers to this question.  Thanks to everyone for your interest and concern.


      Larry French (his grandson)


      Message was edited by: Larry French 03-25-2021 Added just a little more content.

        • Re: Seeking records & Information about Joseph French
          Susannah Brooks Pioneer

          from Evening Star (Washington DC) 26 Oct 1945

            • Re: Seeking records & Information about Joseph French
              Larry French Newbie

              Hi Susannah Brooks,  Thank you so much for finding this death notice.  After you posted this, I signed up to Newspapers.com (again) in hopes I could see the whole "Deaths Reported".  I wanted to see if there was any way to tell what was the exact date of his death.  I wanted to write to the DC department that keeps records of deaths but they require you to have the exact date of his death. 


              I also wrote to St Elizabeth's Hospital and asked for his medical records so see if I can find any leads to his death and where he is buried.


              Again, thank you for taking the time to find this death notice.  Could you tell me how you found this?  I have been looking for years.  And now, even with the information you gave me about the Evening Star, the date etc, I cannot find

              that paper or this death report.


              Again, thank you so much.



                • Re: Seeking records & Information about Joseph French
                  Susannah Brooks Pioneer

                  Newspapers.com does not have the Evening Star after 1939 and is missing a large number of issues prior to that.  I found it on genealogybank.com. This is the whole list:

                  Since it is not alphabetical, I thought it might be chronological, but it is not.  I checked for obituaries for some of the adults on the list to find their death dates (not all had obits):

                  Ralph Wormelle Oct 23

                  Mary Shanahan Oct 22

                  Rose Hayden Oct 24

                  Margaret Carroll Oct 23

                  Edward Saunders Oct 21

              • Re: Seeking records & Information about Joseph French
                Jamie Vander Clute Wayfarer


                Dear Mr. French,


                Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


                We searched the National Archives Catalog and located Registers of Cases, 1855 - 1963

                Records of St. Elizabeths Hospital (Record Group 418) that serves as an index to the Case Files of Patients, 1855 - ca. 1950. The case files of this series typically contain correspondence with patients' relatives, guardians, lawyers, and other interested parties. Also included are medical records, including commitment papers, summaries of the personal and medical history of the patient, notes concerning mental and physical examinations, laboratory reports, data sheets on therapy, ward notes, autopsy reports, case summaries, and other pertinent records.

                Most of these records are not digitized. For more information about the non-digitized records, please contact the National Archives at Washington, DC - Textual Reference (RDT1) at archives1reference@nara.gov.


                Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT1. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


                We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!


                  • Re: Seeking records & Information about Joseph French
                    Larry French Newbie

                    FYI,  after requesting records from a couple of places, I got a call from someone at the national archives and they were unable to find any records of Joseph P French.  They explained how some records were tossed and some were kept.  Since we have no idea of what year he was admitted to the hospital, we can be for sure if the records were in the ones that were tossed.  Still waiting to see if the hospital will give me some information about his stay there or not.  Does anyone have suggestions to get medical records released from St. Elizabeth's Hospital?


                    I also wrote to Washington DC's dept for Vital Records and requested a death certificate.  It looks like you have to be "next of kin" to get a death certificate -- I indicated that I was his grandson but not sure records are given to grandchildren (even old, old grandchildren).


                    I also saw somewhere that these records are made public after 75 years and since we know he died in 1945, we are right at the 75 year mark.  Does any one happen to know the answer to either of these questions?  Again, any suggestion are so welcome.  Thank you.


                    Larry French