Jon Crispin's Notebook

Willard Suitcases / Theresa F / Events

Willard Suitcases Project 
©2013 Jon Crispin
All Rights Reserved

Even though my summer has been scattered location-wise, I have been able to work regularly on editing the suitcases, and have been able to upload a good number of them to the Willard Suitcases site.  Click on “The Cases” to see the latest.  Theresa F was admitted to Willard on 3 April 1935.

It might be a good time to mention  a couple of upcoming events where I will be talking about the project.  In early October I will be traveling to Galveston to speak at NAMIFEST 2016.  NAMI is a national organization dedicated to supporting individuals and families dealing with issues of mental illness.  I’ll be speaking at the dinner event on Friday (the 7th).  If you have been following the project and live in the Gulf Coast area, please think about attending.

The following week, I will be speaking at a very interesting event in Raleigh, NC.  The “Lives on the Hill” project is being organized by the North Carolina Health News folks, and  will be highlighting the shuttered Dix Hospital property in downtown Raleigh.  I will be speaking at the Sunday (the 16th) event taking place at the Student Center on the NC State Campus.  There will also be an exhibit of the photographs up for the entire month of October.  I’ll update about the location once those details are finalized.

It is very exciting to be involved in both of these events, and I am really looking forward to being a part of them.

Willard Suitcases / Ida S

Willard Suitcases Project 
©2013 Jon Crispin
All Rights Reserved

The first few days I was in Nepal I had time in the mornings to edit some suitcase photographs.  Upload speeds were really slow, so I didn’t get to add them to the site until today.  You might want to check willardsuitcases.com to see some new ones.  Scroll down to the bottom of the “Cases” page to see the latest additions.

Ida’s suitcase was mostly empty except for a comb, some wrapping paper, and a label.  I really like this photograph.

Willard Suitcases / Harry M

Willard Suitcases
Harry M 
© 2013 Jon Crispin

Harry M’s case wasn’t technically a suitcase, but it contained some interesting things.

Willard Suitcases
Harry M 
© 2013 Jon Crispin

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.

Willard Suitcases / L W M

Willard Suitcases LWM

L. W.’s case was largely empty save for this purple piece of rope and a half-smoked cigar.  It stikes me as a pretty good metaphor for a life interrupted.  You can check out the other photographs on the suitcases site.  Thanks for following, and I wish you all a lovely weekend.

Willard Suitcases / Charles F

Willard Suitcases Project

I mentioned earlier this week that I was hoping to get Charles F’s photographs uploaded by the end of the week, and here is a sample.  To see the rest of the collection, please go to the Willard Suitcases site.

Willard Suitcases Project

From the little I know about Charles, he came to Willard somewhat later in his life. I have no way of knowing if the portrait in the above photograph is he, or someone near to him, but whenever I think about his life, this image comes to mind.

Willard Suitcases Project

The tassels on his tallit are especially evocative to me.

Willard Suitcases Project

I believe that this is the publisher of some of his books.  I did a search for it but came up empty.  Any help would be welcome.

Willard Suitcases Project

His starched collars were still in quite good condition.

Willard Suitcases Project

I have no way of knowing if he was in the military, but I would guess that this canteen was army surplus.

Willard Suitcases Project

Here is a close up of his naturalization papers, which date to October of 1896.

Willard Suitcases Project

Many of the suitcases in the collection contain scraps of paper with hand-written notes on them.  I find that these can be especially interesting.

Willard Suitcases Project

 One of Charles’ cases had this selection tools (and a razor).

Willard Suitcases Project

  Please check out the rest of my photographs of Charles’ possessions on the suitcases site, and thanks for following.

Willard Suitcases / George C / Charles F

Willard Suitcases

I am attempting to make a push to upload as many new cases as I can over the next few months.

George C’s case is really blue!  It was empty save for a label.  You can see the other photos at the willardsuitcases.com site.  I am uploading the cases chronologically, and this is the beginning of a run of empty cases.  I ran the second kickstarted appeal specifically to document the entire collection, and even the empty ones are important to me.  (By the way, thanks to Peggy Ross for convincing me how important it was to photograph every case. I wouldn’t and couldn’t have done it without her help and support.)

Charles F / 5 May, 1946

One case stands out in this sequence though, especially as it was anything but empty.  Charles F’s possessions were amazing.  It  will take me days to go through it all, but I hope to have it up by the end of next week.  Above is his certificate of naturalization.  On the left you can see the list of clothing that came with him to Willard.  More soon.

Thanks for following.

Design Observer / Jessica Helfand

 

design observer

Very shortly after the first Willard Suitcases kickstarter went up I received an email from Jessica Helfand expressing her interest in the project.  She soon invited me down to New Haven to speak to her Yale freshman seminar class, “Studies in Visual Biography”.  Here is a post I did just after that first visit.  I have subsequently been to her class on several other occasions and it is always very stimulating and fun.

As well as teaching at Yale, Jessica and her late husband Bill Drenttel created Design Observer, which is a fantastic website devoted to creativity and design.  That description doesn’t do it justice though, as it is so much more than that.  It is really worth checking out on a regular basis.  In addition to the site, Design Observer recently started publishing a quarterly magazine.  The second issue is just out, and they included a huge spread on the suitcases.  I am just so honored to be a part of the issue, and it looks great.  Here is a link to purchase it, and I would really recommend all of you interested in the project to do so.  It includes many suitcase photographs that haven’t been published before.  Special thanks go to  Eugenia Bell, who did a great job selecting the images, and making sure it all came together.  She was a joy to work with.

As we were saying goodbye after that first class at Yale, Jessica reached out, hugged me and said “We’re friends now!”  It was a most touching gesture and I have rarely felt so quickly welcomed into someone’s life.  She has been a massive supporter of the project who has helped me in so many ways, and I am very fortunate to be her friend.

Willard Suitcases / Virginia W

Willard Suitcases Projecty

©2013 Jon Crispin
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Virginia’s case is pretty great.  I can’t quite make out the date of her admittance, but it is sometime in the early 1950’s.  It is interesting that these were the only two books she brought with her to Willard.

Good news about the willardsuitcases.com site.  Steve Fox was able to troubleshoot the problem, and it is back up and looking good.  I just added Virginia’s case, so you might want to check it out.

I am looking forward to seeing some of you in New York next week.

Willard Suitcases/Margaret D./NYC Talk

Willard Suitcases ©2015 Jon Crispin

Margaret D. came to Willard with almost all of her household, including her car.  I posted here and here about her before. / The cutlery in the La Lure box is very cool.

On Tuesday the 9th of February I will be giving a presentation about the suitcases sponsored by the Roosevelt Island Historical Society.  It will take place at the New York Public Library branch, 524 Main Street on the island.  The start time is 6.30 pm and I would encourage anyone coming to get there a bit early, as the branch closes at 7.45 and we will need to start on time.

 There is very little on-street parking, I would encourage everyone to come by public transport.  (Hey, it’s New York City!)  Here is a link for travel directions.  If you are coming by tram, the station is at Second Avenue and 60th Street.  You will need to pay with a Metrocard ($2.75).  When you arrive on the island, take red bus (free) to the second stop and walk forward about 50 yards to the library.  If coming by subway, take the F train from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island.  Then the red bus to the first stop and walk 50 yards to the library.  If you follow the project online or have been in touch directly, please come up and introduce yourself.  I will be in the building by 5.00, I hope, and will have time to chat once everything is set up.  Hope to see you there.

 I noticed today that the willardsuitcases.com site is acting up a bit.  All of the information below the photograph on the splash page seems to have disappeared.  Fortunately everything else seems to be working, including access to the cases page.  I have a call in to Steve Fox who did a beautiful job designing the site, and I hope we can get it cleared up soon.

Willard Suitcases / Nora M

willard suitcases nora m

Even though I am in South Carolina taking a short break, I’m still trying to get quite a bit of editing done on the suitcases project.  Nora M’s cases are pretty amazing.

Willard Suitcases Projecty ©2013 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

The above shot is a great example of how the museum conserved and catalogued each item in the collection.  In the photo below you can see how Peg and I unwrapped and set up Nora’s cutlery.

Willard Suitcases Projecty ©2013 Jon Crispin ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

In the past few days I have been able to upload several more cases to willardsuitcases.com, so please go check them out.  On the main page, click on “The Cases” at the top of the page.  There are quite a few shots on Nora’s page, so be sure to click “view: all” underneath the “Add To Cart” button.

Have a great week everyone and thanks for following.

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