"Archiving the Asylum: Demystifying our Hidden Collections"
February 1, 2024


CREDITS: Preapproved for 1.0 ARC (Academy of Certified Archivists), 1.0 CEU (ARMA International) and 1.0 Study Hour (GARA Certificate Program).
GARA CERTIFICATE CORE COMPETENCY AREAS: "Advocacy & Outreach" OR "Legal & Compliance" OR "Archives & Long-Term Preservation"
DURATION: 65 Minutes
OVERVIEW: Managing and preserving mental health records has long been a challenge, especially when stigma and laws like HIPAA pose barriers to accessing records that document the day-to-day lives of state hospital patients. However, state and local community groups in Texas are advocating for historical preservation and educational programming that respectfully navigate the state hospitals’ histories. Consumers of mental health services, mental health professionals, records managers, and archivists are leading the charge to unearth hidden collections that pay testament to how our state hospitals have historically served patients and changed over the years. Join us to learn more about how a diverse coalition of community members are demystifying Texas’ asylum’s histories, and discuss how your states and municipalities can embark on similar projects.
Most states do not have robust programs for preserving state hospital records, much less making archives accessible to the public within the confines of the law. State psychiatric facilities must first and foremost manage the coordination of care across institutions and protect health information through HIPAA and the Texas Medical Privacy Act. Over the past five years, Texas’ Health and Human Services Commission work groups issued recommendations to the State that balance patient privacy with accessibility, including hiring the Preservation and Grants Coordinator for the Texas state hospital system, establishing an oral history work group, supervising graduate student digitization and preservation projects, and much more.
In this webinar presentation, the three presenters will speak to issues and successes ranging from the confidentiality concerns of mental health customers and state hospitals, creative options in sharing this history, providing grant funding for mental health initiatives, and ensuring HIPAA compliance and sensitivity towards archives that record mental health history.
PRESENTERS: D.D. Clark, Historic Preservation & Grant Coordinator, Health & Human Service Commission, State Hospitals, and Elizabeth Stauber, Archivist and Records Manager, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, and Jenna Cooper, Records Analyst, Austin History Center


D.D. Clark   Elizabeth Stauber   Jenna Cooper

D.D. Clark accepted the position of Historic Preservation & Grant Coordinator for the HHSC State Hospital System in May of 2021. Serving in an entirely new direction for the agency, this position highlights system preservative efforts supportive of the foundation for education and public programming, while sharing information about the architectural and cultural legacy within the mental health community and recovery. She is currently working towards the development of historic centers and collections that depict the story of mental health recovery in Texas.

Prior to accepting this position, D.D. spent the previous eight years as Director of Community Relations  & Peer Support Services at Rusk State Hospital.  From 2003 through 2013, D.D. was employed as a Mental Health Liaison for the Texas prison system, preceded by twelve years in Juvenile Probation supervision. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice and Masters Degree in Executive Healthcare Administration, from the University of Texas at Tyler and is a 2014 graduate of the HHS Aspiring Leadership Academy.

Her professional commitments include serving the underserved, more specifically efforts designed to erase the stigma of mental illness through peer advocacy and person centered programming.

Enjoying just about anything that includes the outdoors, she can be found on any given day sweating profusely but with a smile on her face kayaking, landscaping, surf fishing and practicing at being the coolest GranDD in the world :)


Elizabeth Stauber stewards the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health’s educational mission to document, archive and share the Foundation’s history. Through this work she advocates widely for the preservation of mental health history. She has a Master of Science in Information Studies from The University of Texas at Austin, and has helped many organizations preserve their analog and electronic records for future generations—from museums to news organizations.

Elizabeth is an active member of her local archives community and serves on the Archivists of Central Texas board. In her spare time she enjoys playing the cello and camping with friends.


Jenna Cooper is the Head of Public Services at the Austin History Center where she oversees reference services and cataloging operations. She received her MSIS from The University of Texas at Austin, and for the past decade she has managed City of Austin museum collections, records, and archives in varied capacities. Her passion for preserving the history of mental health comes from a combination of lived experience, genealogy research, and serving as a subject specialist for Central Texas healthcare at the Austin History Center.