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.
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.
Just before Christmas I bought the last four paperwhite bulbs at Hadley Garden Center. As they were the last ones, they looked a bit ratty. Since we were gone most of January, Cris didn’t put them into the jar of rocks until just after we got home. The first flowers came out today. A full foot of snow outside but lovely to have these beauties in the house.
I spoke to my friend John Wilson in Stratford-upon-Avon late last week and he said the daffodils are already coming up over there. I guess we’ll have to wait at least 6 more weeks before we see any here.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
I am just about finished up editing the December 2013 shoots.
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.)
Walter arrived in February of 1945. Nelson Rockford Socks are still available.
Mary Agnes’ case just had this little metal clasp, a shoelace, a hairpin, and a label.
And a pair of “leather-like” boots.
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!
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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.
Charles and his small leather grip arrived from the Binghamton State Hospital.
Richard’s case was clearly a traveling salesman’s and was completely empty.
Here is a detail. The Zanol Company was based in Cincinnati.
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.
Today is Peter’s birthday. United were playing Stoke, so while Cris went to the Capitol for the march, he and I went to The Lucky Bar to watch the match. I took this photo in added time, about a minute before Rooney equalized. It was a great goal and the bar went wild. So nice to watch football with him on his birthday. Cris is on her way back to his flat, then out to dinner tonight.
Happy birthday, Laddie.
The Vintage News ran a nice little interview about the suitcases on their site. You can check it out here.
Our time in Dublin was limited, and it was difficult to decide what to do for the last day and a half we were there. We were really interested in seeing the historic Kilmainham Gaol, as it was highly recommended. The only way to get in is with a guide, but Brian was really knowledgeable and we learned a ton about the history of Ireland.
My interest in institutional architecture and abandoned buildings goes way back, and it was a treat to be able to walk through this important historic site and have time to photograph.
For me walking through hallways like this is the best way for me to connect with the history of a place.
The building was abandoned for many years and left to deteriorate, but a group largely made up of volunteers has worked for years to make it accessible to the public.
The tour was fairly crowded, but it was pretty easy to hang back and photograph whenever I saw something interesting.
The main hall in the first photograph was built based on an idea of imprisonment that came from the Pentonville prison in England, whereby prisoners were isolated in individual cells rather than thrown together in large rooms. This was meant to foster a more peaceful environment to aid in rehabilitation , but conditions were still quite brutal.
The cross at this end of the yard marks the spot where James Connolly was executed by firing squad. If you get a chance to read about him in the link, the story of his life and death is very moving. I think the best thing about the tour of the gaol is how much Irish history we learned.
After the prison, a trip to the Guinness Brewery seemed like a good idea.
This is an enormous industrial complex in Dublin. Another tour, but this one was self guided but also quite informative.
It was cool to see this little monument to William Sealy Gosset since I had just seen an article in the Times of London about his work on probability and how Nate Silver uses the same basic model to predict US elections. The article is behind a paywall, but you might be able to sign up for a free trial. It is worth a read.
This is the handle of a big safe that held the yeast strain that is still used in making Guinness. / The tour ended with a complimentary pint of the black stuff, which as always, goes down a treat.
We had a few hours on the day we flew home so were able to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. We were told not to miss it and it was amazing. No photos are allowed in the exhibit, but the tour does include a visit to the Long Room Library.
More crowds, but the room is stunning. Love the marble busts.
Here is old Demosthenes checking things out.
There is an active conservator’s lab that the public can view, and I was reminded of my work on the suitcases as the cotton string used to wrap the books is the same that the New York State Museum used on the cases.
Here is a piece of it tied to the grate that separates the conservators from the public.
We had a bit of time before catching the bus to the airport to walk through St Stephen’s Green and enjoy the beautiful autumn day.
Back home now to return to spending a lot of time editing the suitcases, and to begin reaching out to publishers and museums. Thanks for following.
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.
Margaret was a nurse before she came to Willard, and she also brought along a massive collection of highly starched nurses uniforms.
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.
I started taking a low dose aspirin a while ago, and as I was filling up my weekly pill dispenser this morning that thing happened again.
But this time it happened twice! The wayward one rolled away and stayed upright and the one in the pill container just landed that way.
Harry M’s case wasn’t technically a suitcase, but it contained some interesting things.
I’m not sure what the wooden object on the left is, but the Latimer White Petroleum Jelly label is quite nice. And the Prell shampoo bottle is classic. The label had fallen off, but it has the “Rinse, Lather, Repeat” admonition that got consumers to use twice as much as they probably needed.
I have been editing and uploading more of the suitcases, and you can see the latest here. Just click on “The Cases” at the top of the page. Thanks for following.