I am back shooting suitcases after a bit of a break. Peg has been traveling as have I, and it feels great to be working on the project again. / Joseph A. has a huge number of items in the collection. There were about 15 museum boxes in one of the big storage containers. It is always a bit intimidating with so many artifacts, especially when a large number of the items are clothing. In Joseph’s case it was interesting because half of the clothes were women’s. It wasn’t until we got deep into the setup that we found this card with the “Wife’s clothing” writing on it. As with most of the information that we glean from the objects, we can only guess the circumstances of Joseph’s admission to Willard. In this case though, it is very likely that his wife was deceased and he brought all her things with him. (This included a ton of household items such as sheets, towels, napkins, etc.) Very sad and touching.
I will be presenting the project at the Seward House Museum in Auburn, NY on (next) Wednesday the 5th of November. The event is at the Auburn Public Theatre at 7.00 PM and there is a $10.00 admission fee ($5.00 for members). I will also be talking about my NY State prison documentation project. If you follow this blog, please come up and say hi. It would be great to meet you.
There is a nice comment on the Foundling post from Nikki Soppelsa. She reminded me that she was indeed one of the people who told me about the collection in London. Check out her great blog here. And thanks Nikki. Also my friend Connie Frisbee Houde sent me the link about the fabric exhibit at The Foundling.
These hair pins were in a case when I last shot in Rotterdam. I don’t have my notes with me to credit the owner, but I’ll try to update when I am back in the studio.
I also wanted to mention that the folks at outhistory.org sent me an interesting link about Lucy Ann Lobdell, who was a patient at Willard. And Claire Potter posted about the project on their blog. Thanks to Jonathan Ned Katz and Claire.
Peg and I had a very productive day yesterday. We made it through an entire storage box of suitcases; we must have shot at least 14. Most were close to being empty. This safety pin was (barely) holding one of the ribbons that secures items on the bottom of the case. It is a lovely shade of green. This case belonged to Mary E. B.
I am sitting in terminal 3 at Heathrow waiting to be picked up by John Wilson. Nice to be back in England.
I took the train into New York City (125th Street Station) yesterday to speak to faculty and students at The Columbia Center for Archaeology. One of the (newly tenured!) faculty, Zoe Crossland, had been an early supporter of the suitcases, and through her I was introduced to Brian Boyd, who directs the center. I spoke there two years ago and really enjoyed interacting with the whole group. When I present to organizations like this, I get so much positive feedback that it really fuels me to keep going. Yesterday, it was mostly grad students and faculty and I was thrilled to interact with folks who are so involved in their own projects. As the shooting begins to wind down, I hope to be able to spend a lot of time at colleges and universities talking about the collection. So thanks to Zoe and Brian. It was a great experience.
Peggy and I are were back shooting last week, and found John H’s case to be really interesting. More cutlery and lots of tools and knives.
I wanted to mention that I have been asked to participate in a TEDx event on Martha’s Vineyard on the 19th of August. Details here. I am very excited about this as I will be showing prints and getting the chance to meet some very interesting people. If any of you are able to make it, I’d be happy to see you.
There is a very interesting article in today’s Finger Lakes Times. Here is the link. It brings up the whole issue of names and honoring those who lived and worked at Willard, and is well worth the read.
I shot Theresa’s case recently and it contained some interesting articles. If anyone out there can tell me for what “Banana Liquid” was used, I’ll send you a postcard. Reply in comments and I will get in touch and ask for a mailing address.
Hi everyone. Fred T’s suitcase is really interesting. I have just uploaded it to the willardsuitcases.com site and you should check it out (Click on “The Cases” and then click on Fred T). It was a great case for a lot of reasons, not the least of which it proves that many residents of Willard were free to walk the grounds and to leave on occasion.
He also clearly had an entrepreneurial spirit.
Fred’s other interest was railroads. He made a comprehensive list of every train station in the United States.
The stations were alphabetized on these sheets of paper that were then folded into three columns. On the open one you can see Meadville, PA, which is the town where I grew up. My parents used to pile my siblings and me into the station wagon and we would go down to watch the evening passenger train go through.
It is poignant to see the dates on Fred’s diary. It makes his life seem all the more real to me. Sunday the 11th April, 1926 was a day that Fred wrote about, and now we are able to learn something about his life more than 88 years later . Amazing
This coming Saturday morning (14 June), Karen Miller and I will be talking about our work with the suitcases at the annual conference of the New York State Historical Association. It will be held at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. There is a Saturday only fee of $25.00 to attend, but it would be great to see any of you who could make it. Karen will be reading some of her poems and I will talk about my work with the cases.
Finally, the Italian site La Repubblica did a very nice spread on the project. Check it out here. Thanks Agnese!
Today I finished printing all the smaller prints for the backers of my Kickstarter campaign. I posted an update on my KS page for backers, but I wanted to mention it here as well. I LOVE printing these images. There is something about how they look on paper, as opposed to the computer screen, that knocks me out. I have printed extras as I usually do, and for any of you who missed out on the campaign and would like to be a part of the project, I would be open to selling prints. Just shoot me an email or comment below and I will be happy to talk about pricing. I’ll start stuffing and addressing envelopes tomorrow. Thanks for all the interest in the project and have a great week.
It has been a while since I have posted any suitcases. It is never far from my mind, but there is a lot going on in other areas of my life. There seems to be an uptick in interest for some reason. What usually happens is that a blog or website picks it up and it starts spreading anew. Greetings to new viewers. / I have always loved cases with exotic travel labels, and Delmar’s had a few.
I wonder when he went to South America.
I will be at Willard this Saturday for the annual tour. I would encourage any of you who live nearby to come. There is a$10.00 admission, and it is a rare chance to get into some of the buildings and wander around the cemetery. There are two tours; 9.00 AM and 1.00 PM. I will be at the one in the afternoon . Here is a link with information. Hope to see you there.
After a bit of a break, we were back to shooting more of the suitcases yesterday. It was a productive day, and after the intensity of the Kickstarter appeal, it was nice to be back to doing what is the most important part of the project.
Anna’s case was in nice condition and the wicker pattern was lovely.
For those of you in the Albany area, I would love to see you at a presentation I will be giving at The University at Albany next Thursday the 10th. I will be talking about the suitcases and some of my other work to Katherine Van Acker’s class on documentary studies. Here are the details: Uptown Campus, Science Library Room SL G02, 5.45 pm. On our way back from Rotterdam yesterday, Peg drove me around the campus so I could get my bearings, and the first thing I noticed is that parking could be very difficult. There is a very small visitors lot (link to campus map), so if you plan on attending I would encourage you to get there early.