Uniting families with deceased patient cremated remains
While Oregon State Hospital has made enormous strides toward improving the care and treatment of the patients of today, there is unfinished work in honoring patients of previous generations.
Oregon State Hospital became custodian of the cremated remains of nearly 3,500 people who died while living or working at Oregon State Hospital, Oregon State Tuberculosis Hospital, Mid-Columbia Hospital, Dammasch State Hospital, Oregon State Penitentiary and Fairview Training Center. Those people, as well as members of the community, were cremated at the Salem facility between 1914 and 1973.
In 2004, Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney learned about the unclaimed copper urns and vowed to return cremains to families and build a memorial to honor the forgotten. A history of the cremains and the hospital’s memorial is shared on the
OSH Memorial web page.
The hospital built the memorial in collaboration with the Oregon Arts Commission with one percent of the hospital’s construction budget – in compliance with the 1975 Oregon Percent for Art in Public Places law (ORS 276.073-090). The law requires that when a new or renovated state building’s construction budget is at least $100,000, one percent of that budget be dedicated to the acquisition of art. The memorial was completed and dedicated in 2014.
As of September 2021, 894 urns with ashes have been reunited with families of the deceased. The rest of the cremains are still waiting to be claimed.
Even before Senator Courtney raised public awareness about the cremains, the hospital sought to unite cremains with family members. Today, a list of individuals whose cremated remains are still in the hospital’s possession are listed online, alphabetically by last name. Listings include the date of birth and the date of death, when known. The Oregon Legislature passed a law in 2007 that allows the hospital to disclose this information, which is protected by health privacy laws, for the reunification of cremains with family members.
Hospital officials urge anyone who thinks he or she may have a family member who passed away at one of the institutions listed above to review the list. After the connection is confirmed, the hospital will arrange for the family to receive the cremains.
List of Names
The names of people whose cremains are in the custody of the state hospital are listed alphabetically by last name. Listings include the date of birth and the date of death, when known. The Oregon Legislature passed a law that allows the hospital to disclose this information, which is protected by privacy laws, for the purpose of reunification and construction of a memorial.
Examples of how to refine the list:
- Click on any column name to sort the list in ascending or descending order
- Type "tho" in the Search field to bring up variations of names containing "tho" in any name field
- Type "1898" in the Search field to filter the list to show only records with 1898 in a date field
- Type "tho 18" in the Search field to filter the list to show only records with "tho" in any name field
AND "18" in any date field
If you cannot find the name of someone whose cremains you think may be in the possession of the hospital, check for different spellings. Information for the database was compiled from several sets of hospital records and archives. Many records are handwritten, and the hospital has more than one spelling for some patients. If the date of death matches and the name is similar to that of your relative's, please contact the Health Information Department.
How to Claim Remains
Families who identify relatives on this list should contact the Health Information Department at 503-945-2976. You can also reach the Health Information Department by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or at OSH Health Information Department, 2600 Center St. NE, Salem, OR, 97301.
Families need to provide the following information:
- A completed and signed
Request for Cremated Remains form (9088).
- Once the required documentation is received, the Health Information Department will review and process the request. Urns with cremains are removed once per year, usually in September. You may pick them up at the annual Memorial Ceremony, held about a week after the removal, or they can be shipped to you.
Blue Mountain Recovery Center - Pendleton, Oregon
Blue Mountain Recovery Center in Pendleton was part of the Oregon State Hospital system. Patients who died between 1913 and 1982 were cremated at the time of their deaths. In 1984, cremains not claimed by family members were buried in several common graves at Olney Cemetery, 865 Tutuilla Road, Pendleton, OR 97801. The contact number is 541-276-8100.