Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / John M / Lawrence G R / Final Case

Posted in Clothing, ephemera, History, Mental Health, psychiatry, suitcases by joncrispin on 15/11/2015

Well, this seems to be it.  This past Monday when we started our last day of shooting we expected to have just one remaining case with which to work.  There were a few names on our master list that we didn’t photograph, but with a collection of over 400 suitcases, we figured that one or two were bound to be unaccounted for.

John M’s suitcase had just come back from the Exploratorium and we were eager to finish with his things.  This woolen suit with two pair of trousers was unlike any other we had seen.

It was in pretty good shape, with the exception of this little hole.  I don’t think it was a moth problem, but maybe he just caught it on a nail.  Love the blue thread that runs through the weave.

We had shut off the strobes and were ready to pack up when we decided to look through the “institutional” items in the collection.  (We are trying to decide whether or not to photograph these objects as well.)  Peg spotted a box mixed in with the others that contained Lawrence R’s suitcase, so we fired everything up and got back to work.

Lawrence’s case was a really nice one.  It contained quite a few letters, and some newspaper clippings.  I like the headline here; “Cats Call Truce in War on Rats…” and there is a mention of goats underneath the photo.  My friend Tania Werbizky is responsible for introducing me to Willard many years ago, and she loves both cats and goats.  So this is a little thank you to her.

I also want to take a moment to give my heartfelt thanks the New York State Museum for allowing me access to the collection.  But most of all I want to thank all of you who have been following along with me.  I have learned so much from the comments you have posted, and from the very moving emails I have received from people who share with me their own struggles with mental health issues.   And as I have said so many times before, I could not, and would not have been able to complete this work without the assistance and encouragement of Peggy Ross. She has added so much to all aspects of the project, and deserves the lion’s share of the credit.

Even though the shooting is finished, the work is far from over, and in some ways it is just the beginning.  I will continuously be editing the photos and uploading them to the site.  I’ll continue to travel and speak about the suitcases and will be posting here where those talks are happening.  There will undoubtedly be exhibits and I will be actively pursuing publishers.  There has been so much call for a book, and am hopeful that a publisher will be found.

So, it is onward we go. Thank you all so much.

5 Responses

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  1. Patty Krysiak said, on 16/11/2015 at 1:23 am

    THANK YOU!! Your work is inspiring and enlightening. I will miss the intrigue of the people of the cases. Thanks for giving them to us. The amount of work you put into it made it clear it was a labor of love. Know that it is appreciated.
    Take care of that beautiful pup!

  2. Tania M said, on 16/11/2015 at 11:01 am

    Thank you so much for taking us on this journey. I look forward to seeing what the future holds (I am hoping for a book 😀 ).

  3. marketing4introvertsd said, on 16/11/2015 at 11:05 am

    I’m glad to hear that there will be more story as you go along even though you have photographed the last case. I have so loved looking at the beautiful photographs and considering the lives they reveal. The small glimpse into these lives reinforces for me that EVERYONE has a story to tell. If a suitcase of memories was saved for everyone, could anyone think to become a terrorist? Thank you, Jon and Peggy. Dhyan

  4. Wanda said, on 16/11/2015 at 8:27 pm

    Jon. Thank you for your amazing work on this project. You gave each of these people a place and memory. Gift

  5. Julie said, on 23/11/2015 at 2:07 am

    Thank you for sharing this special project. I have been enthralled by your beautiful photos and your sensitive commentary on each one. I certainly hope there is a book in the future – I want to see and read more!

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