Well the blog is a little late getting out this week, sadly I have been out with a cold. I thought this week I would talk a little about the challenges of accessing the records from Bryce Hospital here in Tuscaloosa. A common request that I get here at my library is for information on people who lived or died at Bryce Hospital or what was at one time known as the Alabama Insane Hospital. Unfortunately most of the time unless the person was prominent in the community, there isn’t a lot of information publicly available about Bryce patients. If the ancestor was at Bryce when the United States Federal Census was taken then they should show up on the Census records. Even the most recently released Federal Census of 1940 shows Bryce patients by name.
If your ancestor was at Bryce, my best suggestion is to contact Steve Davis the Historian for the Alabama Department of Mental Health. Steve may be able to help. A warning though, due to the HIPAA laws passed in 1996, what information can be given out even to direct descendants is very limited. Steve has mentioned to me before that he could not even confirm that an individual was born at Bryce, even though the person has their birth certificate stating where they were born.
Sadly if someone died at Bryce, many times they were only buried with a grave marker that contained their patient number. In addition when Jack Warner Parkway was built in the late 1960s, graves were relocated and lost. If the person died at Bryce after 1908 then they should have at least a death certificate showing they did die at Bryce and maybe where they were buried. Sadly if someone died at Bryce, many times they were only buried with a grave marker that contained their patient number. Bryce did not keep good records either of those burials. In addition when Jack Warner Parkway was built in the late 1960s, graves were relocated and lost. One can always search though, sometimes people do find their Bryce ancestors.