Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Madeline C

Peggy and I have been making great strides in shooting the cases that were returned from the Exploratorium.  Last week, we started in on Madeline C, and yesterday we worked on her books and papers.

Madeline’s life was very full before coming to Willard.

She was living in the New York City area, and taking classes at both Columbia and Hunter College.  You can see her Hunter ID card in the photograph above.

And here is a New York Public Library request form for a Sigmund Freud book.  Her studies seemed to be focused on philosophy and logic.

Madeline was quite a diarist and writer.

Somehow, she became a patient at Central Islip Psychiatric Center, and it was pretty clear that it wasn’t a great place for her.  We came across many letters that she wrote to doctors outside of the institution that were never mailed.  This is something that we rarely found at Willard.

Peg and I were both very moved by Madeline’s possessions. She was highly educated, completely bi-lingual in French and English (the original spelling of her name was Madeleine, so we assume she was born in France), and lived a very stimulating life before she was institutionalized.

This is just a tiny selection of her papers and books.  I could easily post 50 photographs of her things; something I will get to when I upload her to the site.  Which given the sheer volume of images, might be a while.

Thanks to all of you for hanging in there with me on this.  I really think that I will be done with shooting in the next few weeks, and will move to spending at least a few days a week editing and uploading.  I am hoping to find some sort of artist’s retreat where I could spend a month just working on the project.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

6 Responses

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  1. Pmross said, on 19/08/2015 at 3:16 pm


    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Barbara S. said, on 25/08/2015 at 7:07 am

    So interesting! Madeleine’s life must have been so interesting. I love old books and will be looking forward to your future posts of the contents of the reading material titles that were in the trunk. My eyes were quickly drawn to the “eraser” in the photo with the diaries. It is well used. Thank you for posting and will be looking forward to viewing more. Yes…time away would be great for you to have. My idea place would be a nice cabin somewhere quite, fresh air, wind whispering through the trees…a log fire and a cup of sweet milky tea to enjoy. Laying next to me beside my chair would be my old “friend” Roxie (my dog who has passed) and a huge cat curled up in my lap snuggled deep into the comforter that I have thrown over me. (sigh)… oh, yes…some interesting materials to read and ponder over. Hope you get your time away.

  3. Barbara said, on 26/08/2015 at 1:38 pm

    How could we not “hang in” with you Jon? This has all been so interesting, fascinating, thought-provoking. So many times I have just sat at my computer and stared at the images you so beautifully capture. I find myself then going outside for a long walk and pondering the lives of these people. I wonder how you will feel when this project is complete. You have worked with it for so long and have done it with such care and respect for these people and the items they treasured. Thank you again for all your effort.

    • joncrispin said, on 27/08/2015 at 11:17 am

      Barbara, thanks so much for your comment. I am always really interested in hearing how the photographs affect people. I too, wonder how I will feel when the shooting is over. I think I have already “mourned” a bit. But I am super excited about the next phases, which involve getting the story out to a much wider audience. Again, thanks so much. All best, jon

  4. […] (and the person behind getting me access to the suitcases) Craig Williams.  He thanked me for the post I recently did about Madeline C, and mentioned that this exact recording of You’re Driving Me Crazy was online.  Here it […]

  5. […] ©2015 Jon Crispin     Source: Willard Suitcases / Madeline C  […]

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