Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 14 April 2015

Willard Suitcases 
Margaret D.
©2015 Jon Crispin

I am working my way through Margaret’s cases and her collection never ceases to amaze me.  You can see the latest here. (Don’t forget to click “view all” as there are now close to 500 images in her collection.)

Willard Suitcases 
Margaret D.
©2015 Jon Crispin

Margaret brought quite a number of sewing items with her when she came to Willard, including the above stencil with Masonic designs.

Willard Suitcases 
Margaret D.
©2015 Jon Crispin

I am currently editing a shoot that was mostly delicate items like the above undergarment, as well as some of her nursing uniforms.  I’ll have a post up sometime in the next few days with those photos.

I would also mention that Margaret was one of the 10 folks originally featured in the State Museum’s 2004 exhibit.  The made-up surname they used for her was Dunleavy and if you do a search for her name and Willard you should come across very detailed information about her life.  The “Lives They Left Behind” book has a surprisingly complete history of her life before Willard.

I am often asked about how much I know about the patient’s lives before and during their time at the institution.  It is way too complex for me to elaborate here, but needless to say, I have very strong feelings about my need to separate the patient’s clinical lives from what we can learn about them through their possessions.  I tend to talk about it when I present the project to various groups, so maybe one day we will get the chance to meet up and chat.  Thanks for following.

Eclipse 2017

Posted in Jon Crispin, Science, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 21/08/2017

One day as Peg and I were shooting the suitcases I began to feel that one of my strobes was misfiring.  They are very bright and it was impossible to look into it and see if one of the flash tubes was intermittent or not.  Peg said that she thought that she had just the trick to be able to look at it when it was firing.  On our next shoot, she showed up with these and they worked a treat.  I stuck them back in my camera case and only remembered earlier today that I still had them.


We might have been the only people in the States with  glasses from l’Eclipse du 11 août 1999.    I love the look of happiness on Cristine’s face.


Protégez-vous les yeux indeed!  Thanks Peg!


This kid was the best though.  A “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” t-shirt and a welder’s mask.  He came prepared.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 17 March 2015


Another large batch of Margaret D photos are now up on the suitcases site.


As mentioned before, Margaret came to Willard with her car as well as all the paperwork from the purchase.


She bought a brand new 1934 6 cylinder Dodge Coupe.  Such a beautiful automobile.


She was a great traveler and planned her trips meticulously.


This one looks like it would be a fun drive.


This was the only will that we came across in the collection.


The above list is interesting as it appears that she wrote down her work history most likely in preparation for applying for a job.  It is one of the clearest documents showing the specifics of a life before Willard.

More to come from Margaret later in the week.  Cheers everyone.


Boiled Egg

Posted in Food, History, Jon Crispin, Uncategorized by joncrispin on 18/08/2017

I have mostly been posting suitcase photos lately.  That project has really been on my mind, and I am really pushing to finish all the editing.


But I have missed posting goofy stuff here, so I’ll try to start looking for things that catch my eye.

When I was shooting Masonic Temples around New York State I came across a collection of plates at Western Star Lodge #15 in Bridgewater.  Some months later I sent them some nice prints of what I shot that day and they were kind enough to send me a place setting.  I still use them most days.

Wishing you all a great weekend.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 12 March 2015

Willard Suitcases
©2015 Jon Crispin

I have just uploaded another one hundred or so photographs to Margaret’s page.  Check it out here.

Willard Suitcases
©2015 Jon Crispin

There are some really interesting items here.

Willard Suitcases
©2015 Jon Crispin

My breath was a bit taken away when I opened the LaLure box and saw the beautiful cutlery inside.

Willard Suitcases
©2015 Jon Crispin

I love this tiny Statue of Liberty, which was one of several that we came across during our work on the suitcases.

Lots more of Margaret to come.  Thanks for following.  Tell your friends!

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 2 March 2015


I just uploaded another batch of photos to Margaret’s page.  Check it out if you get the chance.  (Make sure you click on the “view all” button; the default view is 25 per page.)


I think this little Devon Violets vase is beautiful.


This lone pill was wrapped in the paper on which it is placed.  It is difficult to read the pencil writing but it looks like amid(something) barbital.


Having seen other photographs of her, I am quite certain that it is Margaret in these shots.

Have a great weekend everyone, and thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 17 February 2015


Quite a few of the Willard residents brought small carved dogs with them.  This looks like a little Skye Terrier.  The thread collar is quite touching.


The doggie theme is repeated here.  I believe that this is a strong thread wrapped around this paper that is used for bead work.


There were thousands of these small (glass?) beads.


I often tried to document Peg’s work and the care we took in putting everything back the way we found it.  These beads were difficult to wrangle, but I am pretty sure we got them all back in the bag.


This photo really gets to me for some reason.  Check the comments for a description of this process as my pal Dhyan will probably chime in.  She has been following the project since early days, and I really appreciate her knowledge of anything to do with fabric and yarn.  Thanks Dhyan!


Here’s some string wedged into a hair comb.  So many questions.


I think we decided this is a post card of the well known dancer Ann Miller.  (Peg’s mom helped identify her if I remember correctly.)  I was pretty sure it was Bess Myerson.

I have started using the date of shooting in the title of these Margaret posts as it is the only way to differentiate the various posts from one another.  Check out the full uploads of Margaret’s things here.  There is a LOT more of her to come.

Willard Suitcases / Beginning Margaret D


I have finished editing everything we shot in 2014 and have finally moved on to 2015.  Margaret D came to Willard with pretty much her entire household, including her car.  I have posted about her before, including this link which talks a bit about her life before Willard.


She was a nurse who lived in the Ithaca area, and came to the institution with a number of highly starched uniforms and hats.


Peg and I shot this trunk in February of 2014 and we finished photographing all of her possessions 4 months later.  Quite a collection.


I will continue to post updates here as I work my way through all of Margaret’s things.


It is exciting to think about completing the editing process on the project.  Once my schedule opens up I’ll be able to really push exhibits and publication.  Thanks for following, and to those of you who have been in direct contact I really appreciate the feedback.

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