Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Madeline C

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

I have posted about Madeline before and her possessions represent a very interesting life before she came to Willard.

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

Throughout this project I have consciously tried to avoid obvious links between the objects in the collection and any sort of connection to being institutionalized, but  I found it interesting that this was the only recording among Madeline’s things.

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

She came to Willard with a fairly complete record of her life in New York City, including her time studying at Columbia University and Hunter College.

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

She seemed to be interested in philosophy.  There were quite a few references to Bergson in her papers.

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

Her handwriting was really lovely.

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

Her diaries were especially complete.

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

I searched online for this poem thinking that she might have copied it as an exercise in writing in English (her first language was French), but nothing turned up.

Willard Suitcases
Madeline C

In any event, it is an incredible piece of writing.

Willard Suitcases 
Madeline C

It is especially interesting how well her life was documented in photographs, and that most of the images also had their original negatives.  Looking at the dates in her diaries, many of these were taken in the 1920s.

Willard Suitcases 
Madeline C

The fox stole around her neck in the picture on the right is something that one doesn’t see anymore.

Willard Suitcases 
Madeline C

I have stayed in the Prince George Hotel on W. 27th Street twice in my life.  Once in high school with my friends Jay, Jeff, and Dennis.  That was an interesting trip!  And once sometime in the 80s shortly before it became an SRO.  Quite interesting as well.

You can check out the photos of Madeline’s cases at the Willard Suitcases site.  Click on “The Cases”, scroll to the bottom and click on Madeline C.  Be sure to click “view all” as there are many more than 25 images.  The site was hacked into recently and everything seems to be sorted now.  Huge thanks to Steve Fox at Born Digital Web Design for getting it fixed.  He’s the man if you need a photo site set up.

2 Responses

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  1. Adina Ruiu said, on 02/02/2018 at 12:58 pm

    Fascinating, thank you for posting such a rich series of photos! What an interesting, intriguing life trajectory Madeleine had (I believe this is her name, as suggested by her library card; it seems more plausible; she seems to have been registered as Madeline by the Willard Asylum, but who knows, since her last name is spelled wrong?). What could explain that she was in 1921 in Canada, between Montreal and Québec, and then she found herself in Dallas in 1922 (where she also seems to have had a bank account)? And what is the photo of soldiers departing on the 1916 Mexican campaign doing in her collection? Her interest in psychology is remarkable; I wonder if she ever got far enough in her studies to be able to practice? Or was that part of her training as a(n) (aspiring) teacher? So many questions! I also wrote down a reading suggestion from her diary, where she mentions meeting and making friends with the author of this curious book: http://www.worldcat.org/title/mr-goldbergs-party-or-leaves-from-the-travel-diary-of-a-young-french-nobleman-in-america/oclc/525630
    Oh, and did you notice that photo in which a young Madeleine graciously holds a feather fan, possibly the same one that you found in her case?

    • joncrispin said, on 02/02/2018 at 4:02 pm

      Thanks Adina. You are a great researcher. I really appreciate your interest. I’ll send you an email directly soon. Best, Jon


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