Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / Journal of Contemporary Archeology

Willard Suitcases
Margaret D
©2015 Jon Crispin

This case belongs to Margaret D, and she clearly liked beautiful underthings.  It is difficult to describe just how wonderful the fabric in these garments felt to the touch.

Willard Suitcases
Margaret D
©2015 Jon Crispin

Margaret was a nurse before she came to Willard, and she also brought along a massive collection of highly starched nurses uniforms.

Willard Suitcases
Margaret D
©2015 Jon Crispin

There had to have been at least 50 of these uniforms, and they were all folded nicely.

I first met Zoë Crossland shortly after she backed the first suitcases Kickstarter campaign.  She is an anthropology professor at Columbia University and has invited me on two different occasions to speak to her department about the suitcases.  Both visits were amazing, and I learned so much about the project from hearing what the faculty and staff had to say.  Over a year ago we started a dialogue about the project with hopes of getting it published.  Six months ago the Journal of Contemporary Archeology agreed to do so, and the online version was released late last week.  Here is a link to see a pdf of the article.  Scroll down to  “Download Media”  and click on the little icon next to “PDF”.  I am so proud to be a part of this as I think Zoë did a fantastic job of connecting my photographs with her interests as an archeologist/anthropologist.  There will be a print version available soon which can be ordered through the JCA.

Thanks for following.  I have been getting quite a few new subscribers to this site, so as a reminder, you can check out The Willard Suitcases site here.

8 Responses

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  1. Dhyan Atkinson said, on 01/09/2016 at 2:51 pm

    Jon, congratulations! What a great article. I loved all the details and the pictures at the end were amazing, as always. “Good on you, mate!” Dhyan

  2. Tania M said, on 02/09/2016 at 11:01 am

    Great Article! Congratulations!!

  3. studioapartmentlondon said, on 04/09/2016 at 5:54 am

    Wow ..exquisite ..

  4. westerngirltravel said, on 06/09/2016 at 12:49 pm

    What a beautiful, haunting article. I did not know collections like this even existed. How these stories in texture and fabric cry out to be told!

    • joncrispin said, on 06/09/2016 at 2:21 pm

      Thanks so much Western…, It has been an amazing project. It took me 5 years to shoot, and I am now editing the photos and starting to travel and talk about the project. All very exciting. I appreciate your comment. Cheers, Jon

      • westerngirltravel said, on 06/09/2016 at 5:56 pm

        Just marvelous work, Jon! I guest curate for a museum called the Nevada Historical Society. I also guest speak there and at the Sparks Museum from time to time. I know both places would be very interested in having you present your photographs and research. Let me know if you’re ever in the vicinity.

  5. Jenni McCann said, on 23/09/2016 at 12:11 pm

    In St. Lawrence County, in the little Village of Canton, NY, our local theater performed a locally written play called “Spirit Whispers on the Grass”. It was about the county poor home. Although it may have been a far cry from Willard it WAS a drop off place for people who had lost their usefulness or needed more support than their family could give them, to put it simply. When we started rehearsing the writers spoke of the suitcases that were taken from the people who came to the home. It made me wonder what had been in those suitcases, where they ended up. It breaks my heart that they probably got thrown away like junk. The county home was destroyed years ago. There is still a small cemetery, some of which has been washed away by the river. Thank you for what you are doing. You give the residents voices even though they are long gone. You show they were human and you give them a place in history so they can’t be forgotten. God bless!

    • joncrispin said, on 23/09/2016 at 12:37 pm

      Jenni, thank you so much for your comment and the kind words. When I started the project in 2011, I literally had no idea how important this work would be to so many people. When I get comments such as yours, it makes me feel so proud, and humble. I mostly feel that I am just a conduit between the owners of the suitcases and the folks who see my photographs. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it. Best, Jon


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