General Content

Behavioral Health Network Collection

Record Group 01 Administrative Records of the Rochester Mental Health Center, 1965 – 1995 (bulk, 1970 – 1993) 45 cubic feet of records in 90 document boxes.

Administrative History:

The Rochester Mental Health Center was created through the consolidation of the Rochester Child Guidance Clinic, the Alcoholism Treatment Center, and several community-based adult mental health agencies in January 1967. The creation of the Rochester Mental Health Center was made possible by the Community Mental Health Center Act of 1963 which provided federal funds for the creation and continuation of community-based outpatient treatment centers. William T. Hart, who had been appointed Chief of Psychiatry at Rochester General Hospital was appointed the first president of the organization in 1967 and held the post until he stepped down and was awarded emeritus status in 1987.

The history of the RMHC is, in many ways, inseparable from the history of its founding president, and users of these records are strongly encouraged to consult BHN Record Group 3, the Personal Papers of William T. Hart, MD in addition to these records. From its inception through 1995, when Dr. Hart died and the records abruptly end, the Rochester Mental Health Center acted as a microcosm of the larger national trends in community mental health care.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the organization was an active participant in the Model Cities program – one of the early phases of the federal urban renewal programs of the 1970s. In the same period, the RMHC made concerted efforts to expand services to underserved communities, including the provision of outpatient counseling services through the Anthony I. Jordan Health Center from 1972 through 1979.

The late 1970s and 1980s saw an increasing concern with the sources of healthcare for the mentally ill: RMHC worked with the State Communities Aid Association on their mission of expanding services to the indigent and the working poor, and with the Statewide Health Coordinating Council to assess both need and resources available to provide expanded services within Rochester. Increasingly, the 1980s saw the administration at the RMHC concerned with issues raised by the restructuring of Medicare and, later, by the introduction of managed care which inverted the traditional relationship between in-patient hospitals and private practice partnerships. Concern for economy, and efficiency in the provision of mental health care came earlier than it did in medicine as a whole. In 1979, the RMHC piloted a demonstration project through the National Institutes of Mental Health to investigate the feasibility of single source provision (and by extension, funding) for outpatient mental health services in Monroe and Livingston Counties.

The 1990s saw a continuation of the trend toward decentralized services, and services offered on a clearinghouse basis rather than from a central facility or in an inpatient institutional setting. The expansion of RMHC services to the VA hospitals and the creation of a Veterans Advisory Committee within the RMHC are indicators of a desire to reach out to a new and underserved population.

In the early 1990s, the trend toward decentralization began to reverse itself as a response to the threat to medical autonomy posed by managed care. In 1993, Rochester Health Care, Inc. and TGH Health System (of which Rochester General Hospital, and, by extension the RMHC, was a part) merged to create the first large hospital network in the Rochester area. This transition is not well-documented in these records, but it is worth noting that in 1997 RMHC was itself reconceived and re-christened the Behavioral Health Network – a service organization consolidating the inpatient and outpatient mental health and substance abuse services from throughout the renamed ViaHealth system. In 2008 the Viahealth system was rebranded as the Rochester General Health System.

Scope and Content:

The forty-five cubic feet of records included in this collection comprise the administrative files of the president of the Rochester Mental Health Center from 1967 through 1995. As such, they represent the particular interests and focus of the Center’s first president, William T. Hart, M.D. Missing from these records are a comprehensive record of the proceedings of the Board of Directors of the RMHC (the records that are present run from 1980 through 1986, and from 1994 through 1995), a complete run of audits, and a full run of annual reports. What is present is a complete record of one executive’s efforts to keep the RMHC expanding and responsive to the changing politics of mental health and community need. There are extensive records on single service provider grant studies, Model Cities grant-work, cooperative work with the National Institutes of Mental Health, and the National and New York State Councils of Community Mental Health Centers. There are applications and reports to the United Way (and its forerunner, the Community Chest). There are also routine administrative files on retirement plans, residency programs, and space planning initiatives.

The records were originally organized in strict alphabetical order. Administrative assistants were in the habit of purging records only infrequently (usually when the filing cabinets were full), and placing them in banker’s boxes for long term storage. For retrieval purposes, the records have been restored to a single alphabetical run with duplicated file names placed in chronological order.

Record Group- 1 Administrative Records of the Rochester Mental Health Center

  • Box 1 through 90 – Administrative Records arranged alphabetically

Record Group 02 Personal and Professional Papers of Werner Israel Halpern, 1941-1997 (bulk dates, 1965-1997) (12.5 cubic feet of records in .5 cubic foot document boxes)

Biographical: Dr. Werner Israel Halpern was born on April 4, 1924 in Nordlingen, Germany, where he attended primary school from grades 1-8. He escaped the Holocaust and came to the United States and attended Benjamin Franklin High School (1938-42) and the University of Michigan, College of Engineering (1942-43). During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army from March 1943 through January 1946. One month before he was discharged from the Army, Werner Halpern married Edith Winograd. The newlyweds returned to Anne Arbor, Michigan where Werner Halpern enrolled in the University of Michigan and received a BA from College of Literature, Science and Arts in 1949. He was accepted into the University Of Michigan School Of Medicine in 1948, and graduated with an MD degree in 1953. In March 1951, the Halpern’s first child, David Rodion was born. Dr. Halpern did the intern year of his residency at Wayne County General Hospital in Eloise, Michigan (1953-54). In 1954, he returned to the Neuropsychiatry Institute of the University of Michigan and completed his residency in psychiatry there in 1957 (1954-57).

In July 1957, the Halpern family, which now included the couple’s second child, Miriam Elyse (May 1955), moved to Rochester, New York where Dr. Werner I. Halpern did a fellowship in Child Psychiatry at the Rochester Child Guidance Clinic associated with Rochester General Hospital. In 1958, Dr. Halpern accepted an appointment as a clinical assistant in the Department of Psychiatry in the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. His strong association with both Rochester General Hospital and the University of Rochester assured that Dr. Halpern would remain an important figure in child psychology in the region for the rest of his life.

In 1963, Dr. Halpern was appointed director of the Rochester Child Guidance Clinic, a position that he held until 1966 when the clinic was subsumed under the aegis of the Rochester Mental Health Center of Rochester General Hospital. In 1967, Dr. Halpern accepted the directorship of the Children and Youth Division of the RMHC, a position which he held until 1989. Between 1967 and 1989, Dr. Halpern was a ubiquitous figure in the development of child psychiatric services and child development in Rochester and in the nation as a whole. In addition to a private psychiatric practice, Dr. Halpern served as a consultant or staff psychiatrist for the Rochester Psychiatric Center, the Anthony Jordan Health Center, Family Services of Rochester, and the Monroe County Family Court. At the University of Rochester, he progressed steadily from instructor, to assistant professor (1963), to associate professor (1997). In 1983, Dr. Halpern accepted appointment to become the Medical Director of the Hillside Children’s Center – a position he held until he retired from public life in 1996.

In the course of his career, Dr. Halpern became a noted authority on child development and published in a wide variety of fields including the impact of the Shoa on child refugees, the negative impact of television on children, the consequences of artificial insemination for parental bonding in children, the dangers posed by raising “turned on” children in an affluent society, and issues relating to mental health care delivery and evaluation in clinical and community settings. Between 1965 and 1997, Dr. Halpern was first author on some 185 individual articles, conference presentations, and professional consultations. In addition, he was either second author or a reader on more than one hundred additional articles.

In addition to being a perceptive and prolific researcher and author in the field of child psychology, Dr. Werner Halpern was also an incisive literary critic, a poet, and a true leader in the Jewish community in Rochester. In the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Halpern authored [number] book reviews, particularly of books that dealt with the impact of the Holocaust on the Germans, on children, and on Jewry worldwide. He also wrote articles in favor of greater involvement in the Jewish community and Jewish religious life. In 1986, A Brand Plucked from the Fire, Dr. Halpern’s first volume of poetry was self-published. Three years later, a second volume, Stages of Hope and Other Dreams, was published by the Conservatory of American Letters. When he passed away in 1997, Dr. Halpern was in the process of preparing two additional books of poetry for the press. Dr. Halpern self-published a family history which is an indispensable guide to his life, his career, and his family.

Dr. Werner Halpern was the son and grandson of cantors – the men (and, in some denominations, women) who lead the singing and conduct the liturgy in synagogues. As such, Dr. Halpern was vitally interested in preserving the cantorial tradition in America. Through their close affiliations with both Temple B’rith Kodesh and Temple Beth-El in Rochester, Dr. and Mrs. Halpern not only contributed liberally to the synagogues and community, they also personally sponsored a long-running cantorial concert series in memory of Dr. Halpern’s father.

Dr. Halpern retired from public life in 1997. His last article, Children’s’ Services & Social Decline: Retrospect & Prospect, was published only months before he died. A complete list of Dr. Halpern’s children and grandchildren is available in either his curriculum vitae, or his self-published family history, [title].

Scope and Content: The Personal and Professional Papers of Dr. Werner Israel Halpern are divided into four series: Biographical and Personal Papers, Professional Papers, Professional Affiliations, and Non-Halpern Materials.

Series 1, Biographical and Personal Papers, includes copies of Dr. Halpern’s various curriculum vitae, personal identification items and mementos, his self-published family history, and his non-professional writings – including substantial draft and manuscript materials for his two published and two unpublished volumes of poetry, his book reviews, and speeches given to various religious and civic organizations. In addition to these materials, the personal papers include Dr. Halpern’s voluminous correspondence batched by decades. This correspondence, which interleaves his personal, professional, civic, and religious lives spans Halpern’s entire life, and gives a sense of a man who was constantly busy, constantly involved in improving the lives of others. Originally, these materials were mounted in “magnetic” photo albums and three ring binders according to a system which is impossible to now identify. Over the years, various efforts to organize the collection have resulted in rough topical and chronological grouping of much of the correspondence, although this was clearly not how the records were originally organized. There is, however, evidence of the original organization system: Series 1, Sub-series 5 contains two “scrapbooks” that are all that remain of the original organization of Dr. Halpern’s personal papers. There is a fair degree of chronological and subject overlap between these materials and the general run of correspondence in Sub-series 3, and researchers would be well-advised to consult both for insight into the varied life and interests of Dr. Halpern.

Series 2, Professional Papers, is broken into five sub-series: primary author, second author, conference presentations, consultations, and unpublished research. These divisions are derived directly from Dr. Halpern’s curriculum vitae. Dr. Halpern was diligent in maintaining a list of first author publications in his vita, and all of the titles in his vita are represented here. Second author holdings are less reliable and there are several titles here which do not correspond with the vita. Consultations include patient evaluations, expert testimony, and any professional services outside of his duties to RMHC, the University of Rochester, or the Hillside Children’s Center. The unpublished research materials are largely notes, clippings, and draft manuscripts that were either never published or never completed.

Series 3, Professional Affiliations, includes both correspondence and papers written by Halpern for each of these organizations, or materials about each of these organizations that were found in the Halpern material. Much of this was probably removed from the “scrapbooks” at some point and brought together artificially. The organizations represented here are: the Hillside Children’s Center, University of Rochester Medical Center, the Rochester Mental Health Center, and the Convalescent Home for Children, the Rochester Guidance Center, the Western New York District Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the New York State Association for Mental Health, and the Rochester Psychiatric Center.

Series 4, Non-Halpern Materials, includes any material not directly related to Werner Halpern’s personal life or career. These materials include publications in which Halpern was neither first nor second author (sub-series 1), and the papers of other members of the Halpern family. Sub-series 2 consist of the personal papers of Edith Halpern. Mrs. Halpern shared many of her husband’s personal and professional interests, but she also pursued an active involvement in the Monroe County Democratic Party, and in the Rochester City School District. Sub-series 3 consists of materials related to the children, grandchildren, and relatives of Werner and Edith Halpern. These include correspondence, news-clippings, writings, photographs, publications and artwork by: Aaron Halpern, David Halpern, Joseph Halpern, Miriam Halpern, Noreen D. Halpern Naomi Halpern Schlagman, Samuel C. Schlagman, Corey Schultz, Gitta Seckels, Anna Shrybman, James Winograd Shrybman, Joshua Sinkin, Robert A. Sinkin, and Minnie Winograd.

Record Group 03 Professional papers of William T. Hart, M.D., 1974-1995, (1988-1995 bulk) -- .5 cubic feet of paper records in one document box.

Biographical: Dr. William T. Hart was born in Fairport, N.Y. on November 17, 1921. He served as a Lt. in the U.S. Navy in World War II and the Korean War (1943-55). He earned his B.A. (1947) and M.D. (1951) at the University of Rochester. He did further training at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, at the U.S. Navy Hospital, and at Chelsea, Mass. as a rotating intern (1951-1952). He worked at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester as a resident in psychiatry (1953-1956). He earned his board certification in psychiatry in 1959, earning his licensure in the State of New York. Dr. Hart was Director of the Monroe County Psychiatric Hospital Unit (1957-67); Chief of Psychiatry at the Rochester General Hospital (1963-87); President Emeritus, Rochester Mental Health center beginning in 1987; Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (1957-62); Clinical Instructor in Psychiatry (1962-63); Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry (1963-67); Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry beginning in 1961; Senior Associate Psychiatrist in 1981; and Psychiatric Consultant at the Rochester Psychiatric Center (1972-78). He worked as consulting staff at the Rochester General Hospital in July 1978 and consulting staff at the Genesee Hospital in 1961. He was Chairman of the Policy Board of the New York State Branch of the National Council of Community Mental Health Centers (1974-84). He worked with many United Way committees. He was on the Eldercare Board (1985). In 1991, he served on the Board of Directors of the Rochester Mental Health Center's Executive Committee. In 1994, he served on the Rochester Health Care-Strategies Planning Committee. Dr. Hart wrote over 15 publications on mental health (1961-81).

Scope and Content: The papers are composed of a single series of records in seven folders including biographical material, professional correspondence, publications, conference presentations, and unpublished research. This material is distinct from, but related to, the records included in Record Group 01 of the Behavioral Health Network Collection. Like many professionals, Dr. Hart’s personal and professional lives, his interests and his administrative duties overlapped. Those who are interested in developing a fuller picture of his life would be well served by consulting this collection as a guide or introduction to the larger body of records in Record Group 01. Box numbers in the BHN Collection refer to the entire collection. Box 001 is, therefore, the first box in Record Group 01.

Record Group- 4 Rochester Mental Health Center of Rochester General Hospital, (1938-1990 bulk) --1 .5 cubic feet of paper records in three document boxes.

Scope and Content: The papers are composed of a single series of records including Board of Directors of the Rochester Guidance Center minutes from 1938-1945, Financial bank books, Certificate of Incorporation, and Rochester Mental Health Clinic Board of Directors minutes (1971-1972) and miscellaneous RMHC correspondence. Additionally, Documents relating to the Programs, Publications, and annual reports (1967-1980) and records form the Department of Psychiatry and documentation from the Turning Point Social Club make up the bulk of the collection.

Behavioral Health Network Collection Overview

Record Group- 1 Administrative Records of the Rochester Mental Health Center

  • Box 1 through 90 – Administrative Records arranged alphabetically

Record Group- 2 Personal Papers of Werner Halpern, M.D.

  • Series-1 Personal Papers Box 91-100
    • Sub-Series-1 Biographical
    • Sub-Series-2 Awards & Honors
    • Sub-Series-3 Non-Medical unpublished Manuscripts
    • Sub-Series-4 Correspondence
    • Sub-Series-5 Scrap Books
    • Sub-Series-6 Non Medical Affiliations & Organizations
  • Series-2 Published Writings Box 101-107
    • Sub-Series-1 Primary Authorship Articles
    • Sub-Series-2 Secondary Authorship Articles
    • Sub-Series-3 Conference presentations
    • Sub-Series-4 Consultations
    • Sub-Series-5 Research
  • Series-3 Medical Affiliations Box 108-109
    • Hillside Children’s Center
    • University of Rochester Medical Center
    • Rochester Mental Health Center
    • Convalescent Hospital for Children
    • Rochester Guidance Center
    • Western NY District Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    • NY State Association for Mental Health
    • Rochester Psychiatric Center
  • Series-4 Other Manuscripts Box 110-115
    • Sub-Series-1 Articles by Other Authors
    • Sub-Series-2 Edith Halpern
    • Sub-Series-3 Relatives and Children of Werner I. and Edith Halpern

Record Group- 3 Personal Papers of William T. Hart M.D.

  • Box 116
    • Biographical, Correspondence, Presentations, Publications, and Research

Record Group- 4 Rochester Mental Health Center of Rochester General Hospital

  • Box 117-119
    • Board of Directors
    • Programs
    • Publications
    • Annual reports
    • Department of Psychiatry
    • Turning Point Social Club