Peter Bryce, MD*

A native of Columbia, South Carolina, Peter Bryce received his medical degree from New York City University in 1859. At the age of twenty-six, on the recommendation of Dorothea Dix, Dr. Bryce became the superintendent of the newly constructed hospital for the insane in Tuscaloosa. At a time when little was known about the care of insane patients, Dr. Bryce opened vistas of care and treatment unheard of at the time, and the hospital became a national example of care and compassion. Dr. Bryce’s methods included tender loving care, no use of mechanical restraints, and individual patient occupational therapy.

Although Dr. Bryce was known as a friendly and loving person, he would not tolerate discourteous treatment; impolite language; or failure to keep patients clean, neatly dressed, and properly attended at all times. Dr. Bryce’s wife, Ellen Clarkson Bryce, also was credited with exerting a profound influence on patients through her musical programs and classes. Dr. Peter Bryce died of Bright’s Disease in 1892 and was buried on the lawn of the hospital. Six months later the hospital was renamed the Alabama Bryce Insane Hospital in Dr. Bryce’s honor for his thirty-two years of service.