Rita Young Allen, MA, MS

Bryce Hospital Choir














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Listen as the Bryce Hospital Choir sings a song from
one of their original concerts in the late 60's
"Every Time I Feel the Spirit"

Chaplain B. W. Allen and the Bryce Hospital Choir
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Music can change the lives of people in very dramatic ways.  My father-in-law, B. W. Allen,  was the Chaplain at Bryce Hospital for many years where he had a choir consisting entirely of mental patients.  He traveled by bus quite extensively over the state of Alabama, carrying the choir to perform in churches and other events.  They were quite the marvel of their time.  The song you are listening to is just one of an entire concert of songs I have of the Bryce Choir.  I will have all the songs listed soon where you can click on the one you would like to hear!  Keep checking the website for updates.     ~Rita

Dear Ms. Allen,
I stumbled across your web site and was so glad that I did. I've been employed at Bryce Hospital for almost 26 years in the Therapeutic Recreation Department. I had heard about the Bryce Choir many years ago from Mr. Tommy Heath who was my supervisor. His mother was the director of T.R. at the hospital for many years and I'm sure your father knew her. Tommy worked there most of his life and had only been retired for about five years when he passed away last year. I learned a lot about the history of Bryce from him. He knew more about the hospital than anyone I ever met. I plan to make sure that all of my coworkers visit your wonderful web site. So much of the history of Bryce has been forgotten and I feel as you do that the people who spent a portion of their lives there should always be remembered. Thank you for helping people to remember.
Sincerely, Cathy Humphries
Therapeutic Recreation Associate, Admissions Unit, Bryce Hospital








































Insights into an Insane Asylum
by John S. Hughes

In May 1881, thinking he was on a pleasant trip to Tuscaloosa with his family, seventy-year-old Reverend Joseph Camp was admitted to the Alabama Insane Hospital by his wife and son-in-law. The shock of being admitted to the hospital only grew during Camp's next five months and twenty days as a patient there. Upon returning to his family in November, Camp published his book, entitled An Insight into an Insane Asylum, at his own expense. Camp's book notes the treatment he received as a mental patient of the Alabama Insane Hospital, including practices of nurses and physicians that often border on cruelty. To this day, Camp's book remains the only significant exposť of the Alabama Insane Hospital ever written.

This excerpt taken from the Alabama Heritage, Spring 1994, Issue #32






Dear Friend,
If you are visiting this site and you have been affilitated with Bryce Hospital in the past, please let me know.  It is very important to me to remember those souls who spent a portion of their lives there.  Although I have several audio recordings of the choir, I would love to find a video recording.  If you have any video and would be willing for me to put it on our site, please let me know.  I hope to have some family stories to post in the future and would love to hear stories from you.  In my quest for understanding how music can change the very fabric of our lives, I especially welcome stories from you who possibly had relatives that sang with the Bryce Hospital Choir.  Their sharing was a beautiful gift and I would like more people to know about it.  Click below to send me an email.  Thank you and God bless you with sweet memories.  I pray that even your difficult memories will render you a new joy and insight about the fragile lives we all live.     ~Rita

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Email message to Rita Allen













































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Chaplain B. W. Allen and the Bryce Hospital Choir

During the time Mr. Allen was chaplain at Bryce, he took the choir to sing for varied functions all over the state of Alabama.  The following is a letter he sent to his oldest daughter describing one of the choir trips!
(original handwritten letter below)
 
Hi Lady!
     We were really glad to get the pictures.  It brought you a little nearer.  I'm enclosing one of Becky which was made in school this year.  I think it is really good.
     I suppose that the rest of the family have given you most of the loose news; so I will have to think of something else.
     I took the choir on a long juant last Sunday.  We left the hospital at 5:30 a.m.  Mother and I prepared their breakfast.  Orange juice, a ham sandwich, coffee and two donuts.  We had this on the Greyhound bus on the way.  We had a bus with rest room.  We sang at Loxley at 11:00 a.m., had lunch with them, went to Gulf Shores and saw the ocean (this was something new for most of them).  Sang at Foley Methodist at 3:00 p.m. (Theo and Joyce were there).  Sang at Bay Minette at 7:00 p.m., supper at 5:30.  (Big day indeed!)  Took in $487.00.  I was bushed on Monday, but am feeling fine now.  We're (the choir) are getting more and more in demand.
     I'm preaching each Sunday at a beautiful little church about 20 miles toward Jasper (Piney Woods).  It is actually a mission, but I feel that we will be able to help a lot there.
     You would be so proud of Philip.  He is doing such good work in school.  The things he makes in crafts are unusually good.  He is still a food bag!
     I think Mother is better than usual physically.
     I'll send the Bible soon.  We love you, are proud of you and are always praying for His best toward you.  Give our love to your room-mate and co-worker.
     I love you, Daddy

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Bryce Hospital for the Insane

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Peter Bryce (1834-1892) laid the groundwork for the care of the mentally ill in Alabama, not by the mere holding of a position, but by his own sensitive, patient nature and by the inauguration of treatment methods that mark him as a pioneer in psychiatry.

Bryce, a native of South Carolina, was elected superintendent of the newly created, not yet completed, Alabama Insane Hospital in 1860, when he was only 26 years old. He gave the remaining 32 years of his life to the hospital that now bears his name. The idea of "moral treatment" of the insane, discarding the use of shackles, jackets and other medical restraints was 70 years old but still virtually unknown in this country when the first person was admitted by Bryce in 1861. The young physician enforced strict discipline among his attendants, requiring nothing short of absolute courtesy, kindness and respect toward the patients. This conscientious nursing bore fruit in the form of warm relationships and by 1882 a policy of absolute non-restraint could be initiated. Bryce set up programs of work - farming, sewing, maintenance - and of amusement for his patients; programs valuable both as therapy and as a means of making ends meet. The very survival of the hospital during its early years, when the state's interest and finances were directed to other needs, must be listed as one of the superintendent's greatest accomplishments.

Bryce created a mental institution recognized as one of the best managed in the country. An understatement, but nonetheless true, is Bryce's own assessment, written just before his death: "I feel that I have done my work, and hope, without selfpraise, to be permitted to say I have done it well."

- from the Alabama Hall of Fame, 1968, "ASC Archives"

Also see "Intructions on Bringing a Patient to the Hospital"

freepages.history.rootsweb.com/~byram/asylums/bryce_al/

This facility is located in Tuscaloosa adjacent to the University of Alabama. It is the state's oldest and largest inpatient psychiatric facility. The hospital currently has 464 beds, but at the time the famous Waytt litigation began it held more than 2,000 patients. It serves a variety of patients in residential treatment and rehabilitation programs. Services include programs for acute care, rehabilitation, Medicaid certified adolescent inpatient care (40 beds) and extended care.

Female Forensic inpatients from the northern 2/3 of the state are housed and treated at this hospital.

In addition, Bryce operates two Medicaid certified intermediate care facilities, providing an additional 354 beds for persons with serious mental illness. All programs and facilities meet the requirements for accreditation by JCAHO, as well as by Medicare and Medicaid. The Harper Geriatric Hospital, which opened during 1995, is physically located on the Bryce campus. It has more than 100 Geriatric Beds.

bama.ua.edu/~jhooper/bryce.html

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Keynote Speaking Professional / Concert Soloist / Published Author

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (Concentration in Counseling) from Jacksonville State University. Master of Science in Management Leadership (Healthcare Administration) from Troy University.

Bachelor of Science in Sociology, Minor in Music from Jacksonville State University.

Associate of Science in Music Education, Vocal Performance
with attendance to Snead State College, Gadsden State College, and Wallace State College.

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