Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Rare Book

I spent the evening reading a rare book at The Birmingham Library:

Rev. Joseph Camp. (1882) An Insight into an Insane Asylum., self-published "exposé" of conditions at Bryce.

The book is so old and rare, I wasn't allowed to check it out or make photo copies. You could only use a pencil when writing notes from it, and they almost made me wear gloves because it was so fragile. All of that hype got me really excited.

Here is a brief description about the book:

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 exposé of the Alabama Insane Hospital ever written.

I am only to page 68, so I will have to visit another day this week to read the rest. It is a really good find.

During my visit, I also discovered another really GREAT book: Letters from a Victorian Madwoman (another exposé on Bryce Hospital.) While skimming the Table of Contents, I was literally FLOORED to find that it was so eerily in tune with the rough script outline I had just written a few days ago. I am really excited to get my hands on this book...


  1. You can always take camphone pics. Lots of camphone pics.

  2. I am just blown away by this, next time I am in town, I want to go on a library adventure with you. It is amazing that they had a copy of the book.