Photos of the worldly goods of inmates at the Willard Asylum


Jon Krispin used a successful kickstarter to fund a photography project wherein he is documenting the worldly goods of inmates at the Willard Psychiatric Center in Willard, NY. Inmates -- who were often interred at the asylum for life -- were allowed to bring one case of possessions with them, and Krispins photos document the contents of these suitcases, which were stored between 1910 and 1960. The photos are beautiful, heartbreaking, and illuminating.


When patients were committed to the Willard Asylum for the Insane in Upstate New York, they arrived with a suitcase packed with all of the possessions they thought they needed for their time inside.

Most never left. The mental hospital had an average stay of nearly 30 years. When patients died, they were buried in nameless graves across the street of the asylum. Their suitcases, with all their worldly possessions, were locked in an attic and forgotten.

In 1995, an employee of the mental hospital discovered the suitcases, 400 of them. They date from 1910 to 1960.

willard suitcases | Jon Crispin's Notebook

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