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Tasmania - Archival Series

Case Files of Mental Defectives Placed under Guardianship (1947 - 1974)

Reference No
Legal Status
Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office Series Number

The Patients' Case Files were produced by the Mental Deficiency Board and its successor, the Guardianship Board. There is a separate file for every individual that came under the supervision of the Boards.


Access Conditions

Closed D75 years
D75 means these records are closed to the general public for 75 years from the date of the last entry in them. People wishing to access these records should contact the Department of Justice. Staff at the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office may be able to assist you in finding other relevant records.


Children diagnosed with intellectual disabilities may not have had them as it is understood today. Challenging behaviour, inadequately managed physical disabilities such as deafness, educational disadvantage, an institutional upbringing, and poverty, neglect or abuse could all lead to a diagnosis of 'mental deficiency' and supervision by the Mental Deficiency or Guardianship Boards.

The language used in the files is disturbing. At the time they were written, the influence of eugenics was declining. However, in the past, its acceptance as a science had made it all right to use language which took a long time to disappear. In 2014, we would consider this language demeaning and insulting.

Prepared by: Caroline Evans