Freda B's case

Lost & Found: Suitcases From a Mental Hospital

When Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes area closed its doors in 1995 the staff discovered an attic full of old suitcases. They appeared untouched since their owners  packed them before being committed to the institution. Photographer Jon Crispin has taken on the task of documenting the collection in an effort to open a window to the lives of the patients of the center, many of whom entered the facility and never left.

Ethel S came to Willard with some beautiful quilts.

Ethel S came to Willard with some beautiful quilts.

Freda B brought a beautifully organized grooming set.

Freda B brought a beautifully organized grooming set.

Dmytre Z was a prolific artists.

Dmytre Z was a prolific artists.

Peter L brought only essentials.

Peter L brought only essentials.

Charles' trunk was the only one that contained a musical instrument.

Charles’ trunk was the only one that contained a musical instrument.

Beautiful lace work filled Mary W's wicker case.

Beautiful lace work filled Mary W’s wicker case.

The lining of Margaret S's suitcase was an unexpected surprise.

The lining of Margaret S’s suitcase was an unexpected surprise.

Anna's case contained several hats, and an incredible pair of shoes.

Anna’s case contained several hats, and an incredible pair of shoes.

Fred B brought many blank postcards.

Fred B brought many blank postcards.

Maude was clearly involved in crafts of some sort.

Maude was clearly involved in crafts of some sort.

Irma's trunk was completely full of sheet music.

Irma’s trunk was completely full of sheet music.

There was only the tiniest scrap of paper inside Viola G.’s plaid suitcase

There was only the tiniest scrap of paper inside Viola G.’s plaid suitcase

Agnes J's attaché contained a letter from her sister, with the chilling words: "But don't come back to the Y.W. and threaten to kill that girl again—that's what put you where you are now."

Agnes J’s attaché contained a letter from her sister, with the chilling words: “But don’t come back to the Y.W. and threaten to kill that girl again—that’s what put you where you are now.”

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2 Comments

  1. Oh my, what amazing finds!! Many seem like artists of sorts…

    • Una

      You’re right! And thinking of the various flimsy reasons people were committed for in the past (like ‘female hysteria’ aka ‘a tendency to challenge the status quo’), many of them might have led interesting a productive lives on the outside…

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