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Researching Hospital History at UHN: FAQ

This guide will help you find out about our hospital's history and introduce you to resources for archival research.

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Photocopies Digital Image Scanning* Research Services
$0.50 per page $15.00 per image

First 30 minutes free for all clients.

For UHN Staff: $40/hour or portion thereof to a maximum of 3 hours. Internal clients would need to provide Cost Centre Numbers; any exceptions would require approval in advance of service.

No additional research services for external clients.

* Please note: Image files are sent via UHN’s file share. The Archives will only provide scans, not prints. Reproduction services are the client’s responsibility.  


How do I access birth or other patient records?

UHN's Corporate Archives does not maintain patient records. To find birth records or other types of patient records, please contact Health Record Services.

Do you have nursing student transcripts?

UHN's Corporate Archives maintains the historical student records (before 1950) of the Toronto General Hospital School of Nursing, Atkinson School of Nursing of the Toronto Western Hospital, and Grace Hospital Training School for Nurses. These include all student transcripts up until 1920 and a 10% sample of student transcripts from post-1920 graduating classes. If you are looking for more recent student transcripts (after 1950) please contact Nursing Education.

Why are some records restricted?

Some files are restricted for 120 years from date of creation, to ensure compliance with Ontario’s Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA). This is because while the record might not be the official health record, it contains information that could identify a patient such as a name, medical record number, health insurance number, address, telephone number, personal health information related to a patient’s care, or a photographic image of the patient. If you've consulted the Archives and determined that the specific files you wish to see are restricted, to request access to these items, hospital staff and learners can submit an application to UHN’s Research Ethics Board using the appropriate online forms and procedures. 

Is there a cost?

There are no charges to using the Archives. However, there are costs for photocopies or scans. Copies or scans will be provided as long as it is possible to do so without damaging the original. The fee for photocopies of archival material is $0.50/page, while scans of photographic material are $15 per image. Please plan ahead as same-day service is not available.           

Can the public use the archives?

The Archives is open to the public as well as staff, by appointment only. Not all records, however, are open for consultation. Those records considered sensitive, personal or confidential are flagged as “restricted” when first processed and are generally considered closed for a period of at least 50 years.

What sorts of people use the archives?

Among the people who consult our hospital’s Archives are medical and administrative staff, lawyers, architects, graduate students, genealogists researching family members who have worked or studied here, television and film crews, journalists, writers, historians, and the general public interested in our hospital’s history.

How do I prepare for my visit?

To make the most of your visit to an archive you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of information do I hope to find?
  • Are there published or internet secondary sources available that could provide background for my search?
  • What is the name of the individual, corporation or department that created the information I am looking for?
  • Which archive is responsible for maintaining the records of that individual, corporation, or department?
  • Does the archives indeed maintain those records?
  • Before your visit to the hospital’s archives, in addition to consulting the Archivist it is important to read the Terms of Use and fill out a Registration Form. Please make sure to bring a pencil and your hospital ID badge (for UHN staff) or 2-pieces of valid photo ID with you.

Can I borrow archival material?

Because of the unique and fragile nature of archival material, it cannot be borrowed. Archival material is housed in closed, secure stacks and never leaves the designated archives reading area. All records must be retrieved by archives personnel and any photocopying or scanning must be done by the Archives' staff.

Can I scan archival images for use in my presentation?

Archival material is bound by copyright legislation. While UHN holds the copyright for some of this material, it certainly does not hold the copyright for all items. If you use any of the material from the Archives for purposes other than your own private research, you should be aware that if the image is protected by copyright, any publication or reproduction could be an infringement of the copyright law. Ultimately, the responsibility for reproducing and distribution will be yours.

Before using any images for presentations, publications or displays, we ask that you make a written request for Permission to Publish. This can be via e-mail or memo and must include your name, department name and location, telephone, e-mail and other contact information, as well as a description of the item you wish to use and the name or description of the project you wish to use it for. We would then issue to you a formal letter indicating permission to publish, copyright information if available, and the preferred method for citing the source.
All uses of archival materials must be cited.

Can I have a scan of the images used on UHN's Virtual Library?

A list of images used on UHN's Virtual Library is available with the proper citation information. For high quality scans, please contact us. Each image scan is $15.