A Peek Into A Patient’s Life: Abandoned Suitcases Found In An Asylum For The Insane

When Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane was shut down in 1995, around 400 suitcases of the facility’s patients were found in the attic of one of its buildings. Sadly enough, because most of the committed patients were left there to be forgotten, nobody from the patients’ families claimed these suitcases. However, some of the old Willard employees were able to preserve the time capsules and were brought to New York State Museum, and are now part of its permanent collection.

Clarissa B.
Photo Credit: willardsuitcases.photoshelter.com

Clarissa B.’s suitcase

When Jon Crispin (a photographer whose interest on abandoned psychiatric institutions) heard about the closure of Willard Asylum and the safekeeping of its abandoned suitcases, he sought the museum’s  permission to document each luggage and their contents.  Crispin’s photographs gave people a glimpse of how these people lived their lives, NOT AS A MENTAL PATIENT, but as an INDIVIDUAL.

Here are some of the suitcases revealed in Crispin’s documentation.

For more of Jon Crispin’s work, you can check out Willard Suitcases here.

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