Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Rodrigo L.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Rodrigo was an extremely literate man.  His collection of books was so interesting.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

He was a writer as well, as this editorial from his Salt Lake High School yearbook illustrates.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Rodrigo’s collection of books tells us so much about his view of the world.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

From reading his writings, I got the sense that he was a bit lonely, and deeply spiritual.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The autographs page of his yearbook had only his signature.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I love the logo for Oliver R. Meredith’s Trunk Factory.  I looked for information online about the business, and didn’t find much about the company, but did come across this great gallery of photographs of trunk manufacturers.

Willard Asylum Suitcases Rodrigo L ©2015 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

From time to time I like to post a nice photo of Peggy Ross, whom I can never thank enough for her help throughout the years that we have spent documenting the collection of suitcases.  I literally could not (and would not) have done this work without her help.

Thanks for following.  Check out all of Rodrigo’s collection here.  Moving on to Michael B. tomorrow.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 17 June 2015

Willard Suitcases Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

I am pretty sure that this was the last day we photographed any of Margaret D’s things. It is possible that as I move through the editing process I will come across more of her possessions, but I think this is it.

Willard Suitcases Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

It was a mixed bag of items that we saw on this day.

Willard Suitcases Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

Here is more of her work with a needle and thread.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D

This little button caught my eye.

Willard Suitcases  Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

I did a quick internet search for “TU-TEE” and found nothing.  This almost never happens anymore.  A commercial product with an interesting concept and zilch!  “This game is something different, and enjoyed by old and young alike.  It is replacing progressive card games in many sections of the country.”  Apparently not in that many sections of the country or there would be some evidence of it.  (Edit.  As I was reading this post once it was public, I realized that the type face on the TU-TEE box looks exactly like the one I use for all of these posts.  It is Palatino, and I’ve been using it for years.  What a strange coincidence.)

Willard Suitcases  Margaret D ©2015 Jon Crispin

This cup and saucer are so delicate and lovely.

So, that’s it for Margaret.  Hers is the most complete collection of household and personal items in all of the cases that I shot, and in a funny way, it is difficult to move on to other Willard patients.  Up next though is Herman G, whose story is fascinating in its own way. Thanks for following.  You can see all of the cases here, and all of Margaret’s here.  (Don’t forget to click on the “500” button at the bottom of the page, as I think the default page only shows the first 25.  And as there are over 600 photos in her collection, you have to click on the “next” button to see the rest.)

 

Anna Lucille Earley, Willard Nurse

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I got a call a few weeks ago from Craig Williams telling me that a trunk had been discovered in the attic of the Covert Funeral Home in Ovid, NY that belonged to a woman who was a nurse at Willard in the early part of the 20th Century.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

At that time Craig wasn’t too sure of many of the details but thought I might be interested if anything came of it.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig has been working at the Romulus Historical Society with Peggy Ellsworth who worked at Willard and has been a great friend to the suitcases project.  Peg has been the go-to person for all things Willard since the institution closed in 1995.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Last Friday Paul McPherson who is the current director of the funeral home brought the trunk to the historical society for Craig and Peg to have a look.  They were really enthused and Craig called to see if I could take a few photos as he unpacked the items and started to conserve and catalogue the collection.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The contents of the trunk are in great shape, and it is amazing to see how well preserved the items are.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I love seeing these old commercial products in their early packaging.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

There were several mounted photographs in the trunk, as well as this envelope which contain a large number of photographic negatives.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig scanned a few and the quality is amazing.

photo baseball rs

The Willard baseball team was almost certainly made up of staff, and not patients.  But one has to wonder if any of the patients ever made it onto the diamond.

photo nurses rs

I think this scan was from a print.  In addition to having worked at Willard as a nurse, she was a graduate of the institution’s school of nursing.  Craig and Peg are looking at the images to try to figure out which one in the photos is Anna.  None are identified on the back, so it might be quite a job.

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The above photo is especially exciting, as the building in the background is the sheltered workshop where the suitcases were stored in the attic and were rediscovered in 1995.  The collection of cases dates from 1910 to 1965 and Anna was at Willard starting in the late teens, so it is very likely that she worked with some of the owners.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As we found in many of the suitcases there is a broad range of items in Anna’s trunk; she had saved things that can tell a fairly complete story of her life, and more broadly, what life at Willard was like in the 1920s.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This box contains a lot of personal correspondence, including some very interesting postcards.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It took a minute to figure out this one.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It became clear once we saw the “soldier’s mail” postmark.  Let’s hope H. C. Norris made it through the war safely.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As a nurse at Willard, she would have lived on the grounds and received her mail there.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This inscription is especially touching and a bit mysterious.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig and I didn’t have much time to go through the notebooks, but this is a huge trove of original source material that will be interesting to study once everything is catalogued.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Perhaps the most intriguing is this small diary from 1918 which contains day to day accounts of Anna’s life at Willard.  To the left is a playbill for “Farmer’s Daughter” which played at Hadley Hall on the Willard grounds.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna’s Student’s Note Book is pretty interesting.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Her hand writing is very readable.   I didn’t see any crossed out sections as I flipped through the pages.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This small brooch is pretty.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The trunk itself is is great shape.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Ovid.  Craig took this photo of her gravestone.

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The Romulus Historical Society will be putting an exhibit together of the trunk and contents sometime soon.  The museum is located in the town of Willard and is only open until the end of September.  It is not clear if anything will happen before then, but Peggy is eager for the collection to see the light of day.  I’ll update here when I know details.  There is obviously a ton of work to be done researching Anna’s life, but this is really an amazing find.

Special thanks go to Paul McPherson for contacting the historical society with this incredible look into the life of Anna.  A find like this really brings history alive.  It will be interesting to see what develops once everything is conserved and catalogued.  And as always thanks to Peggy Ellsworth for her tireless work in remembering the patients and staff at Willard, and to Craig Williams for keeping me in the loop.

 

 

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 2 March 2015

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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.)

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I think this little Devon Violets vase is beautiful.

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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.

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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 / Chapin House / NAMI Waco

Willard Hallway

I took this photo in the early 1980s at the very beginning of my connection with Willard.  It is still one of my favorites from the “Silent Voices” project.

Here are a few shots from my recent uploads to the suitcases site.

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I’m not exactly sure what the white fabric object is in Kenneth Q’s case, but it is interesting.  The orange toothbursh is kind of nice.

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Elizabeth C’s dress is so beautiful.

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The cotton fabric is soft and wonderful.

Willard Suitcases

There are 3 different places on the above photograph where I had to obscure Amelia’s surname, and it still makes me sad every time I have to do so.  The Office of Mental Health pr guy told me a few years ago that it was necessary due to the stigma of mental illness.  It is precisely that attitude that prolongs that stigma; the Willard patients deserve to be recognized as being more than just patients at a New York State asylum.

On Wednesday, I fly to Texas to present the suitcases project at a dinner sponsored by NAMI Waco.  Here is a link to the event.  If you are in the area, it would be great to see you and make a connection.

Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / John R

Willard Suitcases Project

John R had quite a collection of interesting objects in his cases.  He certainly was interested in the wild west.

Willard Suitcases Project

The green shirt has a classic western look and the tie with the scantily clad woman is pretty cool.  One wonders if he ever wore it, and if so, where.  The object in the middle of the photo is a jock strap.  I remember them from gym class when I was a kid, but you don’t see them around much anymore.

Willard Suitcases Project

Back in the day, men sometimes wore garters with their socks.  This color gray is beautiful.

Willard Suitcases Project

I am thinking that these leather straps went with some sort of jodhpur trousers, but I suppose they could have also been worn around the wrists.  Anyone out there have an idea about this?

Click here to see all of John’s cases.  Don’t forget to click on the “view all” tab, as there are more than 25 images in the gallery.  I am really proud of this one.

Willard Suitcases / John R / Talks

willard suitcases

When I talk about the project I am often asked if I have a favorite suitcase.  My answer is always the same; from the start, I have seen the collection as a whole and no case stands out to me. But I do have some favorite photographs from the project, and this is one of them.

willard suitcases

 The dark glasses are pretty cool.

willard suitcases

This was the first time I had ever seen an actual Shinola tin.

willard suitcases

We saw several of these Yardley Talc containers.

willard suitcases

I have uploaded the rest of the photos from John’s case at the suitcases site.  Check it out!

There are two upcoming events near to me where I will be talking about the suitcases.  I’ll have copies of the second Kickstarter reward book for sale at the Hadley, MA Barnes & Noble this Saturday the 18th.  I’ll be there from 2.00 – 5.00 PM.  Come by and say hi.  And on Monday I will be giving a talk at the Amherst Woman’s Club.  I expect to start at 1.00 PM.

Thanks for following!

Willard Suitcases / Issac and Alice

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I continue to make good progress uploading to the suitcases site.  Issac’s case had just a few items, but the buttons are nice, as well as the safety pins.  I especially like the folding coat hangar.

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Peggy and I were thrilled to open Alice’s case and see the beautiful lining.

Check out the latest at willardsuitcases.com.

Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / More Labels / Peg

Willard Suitcases

I am just about finished up editing the December 2013 shoots.

Willard Suitcases

The cases were mostly empty, but this newspaper is interesting.  It describes a particularly tragic boating accident in Alexandria Bay, NY that occurred in August of 1929.  I did a bit or research.  Here’s a link to an online newspaper archive that goes into some detail.  It wasn’t completely unusual for a suitcase to contain a complete section of a newspaper and little else.  I wonder if H. L. had any connection to the Lipe family.  (Lipe is not his surname.)

Willard Suitcases

Walter arrived in February of 1945.  Nelson Rockford Socks are still available.

Willard Suitcases

Mary Agnes’ case just had this little metal clasp, a shoelace, a hairpin, and a label.

Willard Suitcases

And a pair of “leather-like” boots.

Willard Suitcases

Baker’s case was the only one where we found a bit of “racy” material.  Look closely to see the title of the painting.  Cheeky!

Willard Suitcases

The storage facility wasn’t always the warmest place to work (except in the summer).  Peggy Ross was always such a sport though, and only rarely complained.  We ate a lot of  hot/sour soup from the local Chinese restaurant for lunch, which helped us get through the day.

Check out the Willard Suitcases site to see the latest.  Thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / December 2013

 

I have been editing and uploading the suitcases in the order in which they were shot.  This process is quite drawn out as I shot well over 30,000 images during the project and it is an enormous task.  I have been feeling really good about it though, as I am spending most days until 1 PM working on the files.  The photos in this post are all from a shoot on the 11th of December 2013.  At this point, Peg and I had worked through many of the suitcases that were full, and in this stretch the cases were largely empty except for labels.

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Mary’s labels are quite evocative.  The small one on the left is unfortunately torn, so we can’t see her date of admittance, but the larger one on the right tells us that she came from Syracuse.  Dr Elliott’s name shows up often in our work, and I must assume that Elliott Hall at Willard is named after him.  (I can’t remember if I have ever linked to this before, but Dr. Robert E. Doran wrote a history of Willard in 1978 that is really interesting. Here is the link.)

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

There are so many small details that grabbed my attention when I was shooting.  This is all that was left of Mabel Y’s label.

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Norah’s label tells us quite a lot.  Her Willard number, her date of admission, from where she came and into which building she went.  Peggy and I often had a laugh over the description of the suitcases; “leather-like” was used constantly.  And occasionally “cardboard-like” appeared.  When you think of it, cardboard-like is probably…..cardboard!

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ida came to Willard on 16 November 1929.  The string on the label is pretty and the Syracuse Post-Standard is from June of 1929.

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Charles and his small leather grip arrived from the Binghamton State Hospital.

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Richard’s case was clearly a traveling salesman’s and was completely empty.

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Here is a detail.  The Zanol Company was based in Cincinnati.

Willard Suitcases
©2012 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Finally for today, Alice R’s case had this nice thermometer, a clasp for holding up a stocking, and a card from a Christmas present.

Please go to the Willard Suitcases site to see more photographs of these particular cases.  Click on “The Cases” and scroll down to the bottom to see the latest additions.  Thanks for following.

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