Jon Crispin's Notebook

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.

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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.

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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 / 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.

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D / 17 March 2015

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

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

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

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She was a great traveler and planned her trips meticulously.

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This one looks like it would be a fun drive.

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

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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.

 

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

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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 / Margaret D / 17 February 2015

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

Willard Suitcases / Michael D’A

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It was clear to us when we were setting up Michael’s shot that the wrapping contained crutches.

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They were in remarkable shape for being so old.

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Michael came to Willard from Manhattan State Hospital on Ward’s Island, but unfortunately we don’t have a date for his admittance.

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As I was editing the photographs this morning, I couldn’t remember precisely why I took the closeup shot below.

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As I looked closely the faint marks on the crutch stood out.  I wonder if he was making them in order to count days at Ward’s Island before he came to Willard.

You can see the latest here.  Thanks for following.

NAMI Waco Talk

Posted in Jon Crispin, Mental Health, mental illness, Uncategorized, Willard Suitcases by joncrispin on 18/05/2017

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I had the chance to walk around Waco a bit this morning before I started working on tonight’s talk.

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There was a public ceremony today in the park across from my hotel memorializing fallen police officers.  I am always drawn to a crowd (which were behind me when I took this photo).

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I learned that Dr Pepper was invented in Waco, and the amazing Cynthia Cunningham from NAMI Waco gave me a bag with some gifts, including these two bottles of Dr Pepper (made with real cane sugar!).  I am drinking one now and it is wonderful.

 My talk tonight went pretty well; I was nervous at first, but seemed to do ok.  I’d give myself a B, but I am still learning.  Lots of folks came up to me afterwards and were so nice and complimentary.  If you are looking to do a bit of good in this world, send NAMI Waco some money through their site, or if you live in an area with a local NAMI group, think about volunteering.  They are doing amazing and important work.  /  I also met some great folks from the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.  Coby Chase was familiar with the suitcases project and drove up from Austin where he works lobbying the state on mental health issues. He mentioned their site okaytosay.org which is really interesting and inspiring.  So much of the work NAMI, Meadows, and like minded organizations do is related to reducing the stigma of mental illness.  I am so grateful to Cynthia for connecting the suitcases to her work, and for giving me the chance to meet so many wonderful people who work so hard to improve the lives of families who struggle with mental health issues .

That’s it for tonight.  Back home tomorrow.  Thanks, as usual, 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.

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