Many readers of H-Madness are already familiar with the online Willard Suitcase Exhibit – The Lives They Left Behind, a chronicle of suitcases left behind by former patients at the Willard Psychiatric Center in New York’s Finger Lakes region. There is now also a traveling exhibit. As those behind the project put it, “the goal of this exhibit is to bring the stories of the suitcase owners and a patient-centered view of the history of psychiatry to a wider audience across the country.”
Freelance photographer Jon Crispin, based in Massachusetts, has now been granted rare access to photograph these cases and their contents and post them on his website. Some of these remarkable photographs can be seen here and here. All told, these sites and images provide an unusual glimpse into the material culture of asylum residents.