Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Ethel S

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, History, Willard Asylum, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 02/03/2014

Ethel  S came to Willard with some beautiful quilts, which I have reason to believe she had made herself.

She also had some interesting photographs, and her Bible was a very nice edition.

And for some reason she arrived with a complete set of cutlery.

I especially liked this spoon, which was most likely hers as a child.

I often find myself wondering what impact her faith had in how she coped with life at the asylum.

As you can see, Ethel was admitted on 3 July, 1930.

Three days to go on the Kickstarter appeal.  Thank you all for your support.  I have every confidence we will make it.  I especially want to thank those of you who have increased your pledges.  I am a bit overwhelmed by all this.  You all must know that this is not so much about me and my life as a photographer, but about the  people who lived at Willard, those who took care of them, and all of you who are a part of the project.  Have a great week everybody.

10 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Dhyan Atkinson said, on 02/03/2014 at 9:10 pm

    I have to ask. They never saw the possessions they brought with them to Willard again? I can maybe understand cutlery but why could Ethel not have her quilts or the bible? Why was she and the others not allowed their pictures? This is another layer of sadness for me about the photos you are taking. I hope you reach your goal. I raised my amount but I have had cancer recently and cannot give very much.

    • joncrispin said, on 02/03/2014 at 9:18 pm

      Dhyan, they did have access to their things. Some items were in storage which they could retrieve and some were in their rooms with them. Thanks for your comment and interest. Jon

  2. sorbetsurprise said, on 03/03/2014 at 5:35 am

    Wow this is a particularly moving case, you really get a snapshot of Ethel herself here.

  3. Kay said, on 03/03/2014 at 10:00 am

    I’m in, Jon! (I also posted on Facebook.)

    • joncrispin said, on 03/03/2014 at 10:04 am

      Kay, thanks so much! Really happy to have you a part of this. Best, Jon

  4. Sarah said, on 03/03/2014 at 10:28 am

    That pink quilt is actually what is known as a “double pink”, which generally dates to around the 1880s. Obviously I can’t definitively date the quilt from a picture on the internet, but I think those quilts are late 1800s quilts. Which 1) appear to miraculously preserved and 2) what happens to them now? They are really very nice examples of antique quilts and I would hate to think they are forever in a suitcase! (The green one is also consistent with that time period.)

    • joncrispin said, on 03/03/2014 at 10:38 am

      Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your expertise about Ethel’s quilts. The suitcases and their contents are in the permanent collection of the New York State Museum. They have been conserved and catalogued. Due to the personal nature of the patient’s possessions, and state laws about ownership, the quilts will probably never be on public display, which I know is a shame. Like many of the other amazing objects in the collection, the way they can be shared is through my photographs. And I feel very fortunate to have access. All best, and thanks for your interest. Jon

  5. Sarah said, on 03/03/2014 at 5:58 pm

    I am endlessly fascinated by the suitcases I will admit. But it’s also so sad. Why wasn’t that stuff claimed by family at some point? I think my endless curiosity is because my mother spent a fair amount of time in psychiatric wards in the ’60s. I cannot imagine her going there and staying until her death.

  6. Kim Campbell said, on 09/03/2014 at 2:18 pm

    This is by far my favorite. Ethel was my grandmother’s name and she was a quilter. This is a great project and is close to my heart as I had a great grandfather that spent time in the Indiana State Hospital. Thankfully he got to go home.
    I also agree with Sarah. It is sad that no family ever claims them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: