Web Wednesday – Willard Suitcases

Sometime ago I came across today’s Web Wednesday topic and thought it was simply fascinating. Not just in terms of the actual project, but also the historical context and details behind it.

The project is called Willard Suitcases and the blog is capturing the very essence of the 400 suitcases belonging to former residents of a New York psychiatric hospital. The cases were put into storage when the patients were admitted, many contained belongings packed without the realisation of what it means to be institutionalised. The luggage dates from between 1910 and 1960 and in the cases of many of the patients they never left. Quite simply tragic.

Willard Psychiatric Hospital circa 1880 – courtesy of The New York Times

Once the hospital was closed the luggage was salvaged and acquired by New York State Museum. The blog host, Jon Crispin was given the wonderful opportunity to photograph the luggage.

You can read more details about the project at
http://www.willardsuitcases.com/about. Jon’s introductory post can be found HERE. You can also read Jon’s blog and see the posts about the suitcases at http://joncrispinposts.com/

The tragedy in all of this is that many people were confined in institutions across the globe  for conditions that were not diagnosed or treated. Conditions such as epilepsy for example. Conditions such as dementia was not acknowledged. In other instances wives were confined for perhaps having what we know now to be post natal depression, or perhaps confined so they could be replaced with a newer model!

Websites such at this one exists to honour those who lived in such tragic times. It is important that we learn from the material and data they left behind.

Further information

Links accessed and found to be live 23rd March 2015

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationary & History; Surnames, European Ancestors, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies, Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies and surname courses.
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