{Nostalgia} The long forgotten minds....

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Imagine being committed to an asylum to be forgotten by the world outside...to pass without a care of those who may be walking free beyond the window panes. Having only a small suitcase of your earthly possessions to bring with you. To be left by family members who were fed up taking care of you or brought in on your own, tired of taking care of yourself.  The Willard Asylum for the Insane' in Upstate New York was open to these souls from the 1800's to 1995, housing thousands, some for the rest of their lives. Being born in a time where you could be committed for anything from epilepsy & having seizures (which was grounds for lifelong commitment) to young women who were promiscuous, gays, lesbians, or mothers who couldn't get over the loss of a child within three months or less would be put away here.  When they arrived, they brought a suitcase filled with all the items they thought they might need for their time inside. Sadly, most never left. The mental hospital had an average of nearly 30 years, when a patient died, they were buried in nameless graves across the street; possessions packed up in their suitcases, stored in the attic and forgotten.

In 1995, a worker of the mental hospital came upon these suitcases, 400 of them. They dated from 1910 to 1960. Now, photographer Jon Crispin has taken the painstaking task of cataloging each suitcase and shining new light on the forgotten, echoing the voices of the minds of the people deemed not fit enough to be allowed in society. The place is now used as a drug rehabilitation center. The chills that tingle the spine looking over the articles of clothing, pictures of loved ones, little gems of happiness taken away to never be gazed upon again brings a sense of sadness, yet wonder. In a small way, we get to discover what these people were like, it strips away the stereotype of an 'insane' person, we see the raw underneath that many don't take the time to understand or love. We see the human - the realness, the idea of what is actually normal ripped apart, to realize that no matter what - we all feel! While, thankfully the conditions some of these people were committed for are no longer reasons to do so, we still look at them as if they should be in a place like this. The human mind is such a great creation with so much power that we haven't even touched on, it would be nice to live in a world where we at least tried a bit harder to do so & understand mental illness and conditions better, so that everyone can live a safe & healthier life.

I hope you enjoy, have a great Wednesday dolls

P.S. As things change, be sure to follow this blog on Bloglovin to keep track of posts! 

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Pieces of a past life: This suitcase belonged to Anna. Inside was a letter that was not addressed to her, a pair of toothbrushes and several belts and sashes - as well as shoes and hats.

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This case belonged to Frank C., a U.S. Army veteran from Brooklyn, New York. Here, a sewing kit, personal grooming kit, toy pistol and bread ration card are all visible. He also carried several photos of himself and his family

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Frank C.'s uniform was perfectly preserved - even though it was packed away in the 1950s and not found until 1995

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This is the family that Frank C. left behind. It is unknown whether he ever left the Willard Asylum for the Insane.

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This remarkably-detailed prosthetic leg was shipped to Willard for Henry L.

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Flora T.'s kit includes what appears to be strychnine sulfate, which is a drug that could treat epilepsy. It is unknown why she was committed, though.

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A moment in time: Peter L. bought a newspaper in Syracuse, New York, the day before he was committed. The date: March 22, 1941

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There is no sign of mental illness is this well-ordered suitcase left behind by Frank C.

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Dmytre, who owned this suitcase, is one of the few patients from Willard who is well known. He was committed in 1953 and stayed in the hospital for 24 years. He died in 2000

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Flora T. was clearly a woman of class. The fine possessions, including a perfume bottle and silver napkin ring, reveal a woman with means. However, the kit of needles and injection drugs adds a dark element to this collection

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Eleanor G. had several suitcases in the collection. This is one. It contained an expensive bottle of perfume, a pair of electric curling irons and the remnants of a sewing kit

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Charles played the zither and he brought it with him when he was committed to Willard in the 1930s. It's unknown whether he was allowed to play it while in the hospital

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A bottle of glycerine, still corked, was found in Maude K.'s case, along with a paperweight from the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

{All images & some of the picture info is copyright to Jon Crispin. Some put in my own words. No alterations done to any photos. For display purposes only}


  1. Amazing and touching.
    Wonderful post, my dear Kizzy.

  2. Incredible! Imagine being that worker and stumbling upon all of these dated pieces of someone's life. Thanks for sharing this dear. Glad Crispin was able to catalogue the Willard cases.

    1. Me too, I think it's so important they weren't forgotten after the cruel life they had. To be put away for something they don't have control over just doesn't seem right.

  3. Wonderful pictures and information post!

  4. Oh dear these findings are Amazing, there so much story behind each of these cases!
    Don't Call Me Fashion Blogger

  5. This is fascinating yet sad since we know how the treatment of mental illnesses have been in the past decades. I have heard a lot from my father, he worked in a criminal mental hospital in the 70's and by then the treatments were.. well, not that awesome :/. I can imagine how it has been before that.
    I read a book and saw a movie (finnish) of a woman who spent her life in a mental hospital from the 1930's or 1940's on, imagining that she was a princess, and she was fairly happy. A movie called "Frances" (Jessica Lange on the main role) is a sad story of a "mental" person who got locked into an asylum.
    Long comment lol.. These topics interests me :D
    Have a lovely day <3

  6. Wow, what a fascinating collection and reflection of people during these times! It is interesting and sad to see the pictures as well and wonder if it is family that left the patient behind or was actually in contact with him/her.
    I wonder what I would leave in my suitcase!

    Chic 'n Cheap Living

  7. I'm really glad that I read this post even though it made me feel emotionally moved. It's crazy that you can just be left and shunted off into the back of society, almost like these lives, these important and very real human lives have just been swallowed up and taken away, it's pretty sick even when you think about it. Sadly it still happens in one way or another even in society today, a real shame but it's important stories like this are shared so we take into account what people have been through before and try to do our best to avoid it happening again as well.

  8. This is really amazing!!!!
    Chic With The Least
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  9. This post gave me chills. I love that you're shedding light on something that I never knew existed - even as close as I am to the city! The treatment of mental disorders over the years is baffling and fascinating to me. I suffer from anxiety, and I'm so grateful to grow up in a generation where I wouldn't be locked away for it -- it's so sad and disheartening to know what these poor people went through.
    Beautiful post, but I expect nothing less from you, my dear! xox

  10. Just amazing pictures


  11. This is very interesting.....thanks for sharing Doll. I'm always interested in these kinds of stories having my fill via a lot of Lifetime TV movies....hahah!


  12. So sad. I shudder to think how isolated and lonely some of these people must have been. My maternal grandmother was admitted to a mental institution for a short time on several occasions (she was schizophrenic and an alcoholic). My mother said that each time my grandmother returned home it was as though another little bit of her being had been stripped from her and she became progressively more empty.

  13. I am wearing your necklaces today.

  14. This post really brings tears to my eyes. The suitcases really hit home as an art exhibit. i'm glad that the place is now a rehab and can shirk off the chilling spirt that once fell around it.

    1. me too :)) It's what these dear souls deserved!! xx

  15. It's terrible how the mentally ill were treated back then (things have improved but it's still not good). Each suitcase really makes you think about that individual. It personalizes them. They're not just a number. By today's standards, many of them shouldn't have been committed to life there. But were an embarrassment to family, which is so sad. Thanks for sharing this doll.

    1. It is very sad. I think it's why I felt the need to post on it. I didn't want them to be forgotten like they had been for so long. Which is why I'm glad these were discovered by someone who thought to put all of this together and show them. The things they must have endured, just isn't right. This is something that I think continuously needs to get better all the time. You're welcome :))

  16. It's amazing when you find something that bring your mind back to all the emotion and parfumes of the past events!!
    Thanks for the emotions dolly!xx

  17. This post was both saddening and enlightening at the same time. Thank you for showing that there were valid personalities behind these poor souls. They really shouldn't just be silently forgotten.

    Hope your week is going fab so far Kizzy!

    Rowena @ rolala loves
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    1. It is going great, thank you doll. I hope the same for you too :) x

  18. Oh my gosh this is really sad. How lovely and desperate these people was, and how they treated the sick back then.
    On a more uplifting note though, how fab that the person who did come across these, have managed to catalogue everyones suitcase, and shed a little bit of light. Had no idea this even existed Kizzy, thanks a million for sharing doll, hope these people are somewhere good now.
    Much love,

    1. I hope they are somewhere pleasant too doll, they deserve that really xx

  19. Oh wow! what an interesting post but so sad -


    1. it is sad, but they are getting their voices heard now and I am happy for at that at least :) x

  20. hi kizzy. my eyes are still swelling with tears. my granpa just passed away a little while ago. he is downstairs and we're waiting for the morning to take him to the funeral clinic. this is my first time to actually lose someone who's been with me everyday. my grandparents on my dad's side were both deceased but as I've said this is my first time to lose someone whom I get to be with every waking day. It feels so heavy. I wonder how the relatives of people from the asylum dealt with the passing of their loved ones... I feel saddened really... If some people would come to think of it, my granpa was a bit of a pain for everyone in the family since he couldn't move at all and everyone needed to attend to him, bathe him, for almost 10 years... same routine for everyone, but we never sent him anywhere, we never planned to because he's family. This day he left. Sorry I used your space :( I dont really know what Im saying. I just hope people would be more enduring for their loved ones.

    1. I know I responded on your page, but I just wanted to send you more love...losing someone so dear is never easy and not always so understandable. I'm glad your grandpa got to be taken care of by people that loved him. Though it may have been hard, I'm sure he was so appreciative of everyone taking the time to care for him. It's a self-less thing to do. It's love. Though you may not get to see him each day now, know that he lives on in you, so he is never truly away from you!! All love to you & family. I shall keep you in my heart & prayers <3 XXXXX

  21. this is a very nostalgic and incredible post, I relly give you a score up to 100 because is something very special to write about...

  22. thank you kizzy for sharing this. i think the mentally ill are often times forgotten and passed over for treatment. this post not only raises awareness, but provides an emotional and real connection as each of these suitcases not only represents a life, but shows us that mental illness is indeed real and can affect anyone. such personal treasures that meant so much to each of them can now live on to tell their stories.

    1. You're welcome. They do get forgotten and it's a shame. I hope this exhibit will help shed light on their voices that weren't listened to in their time :))

  23. It's scary when you think about all the people who were put in these asylums, without being insane at all! If this was still how things worked today - when almost everyone seems to suffer from SOMETHING, like stress, ADD, depression, or a million other things - at least half of the world's population would be put away in places like that... ;) These suitcases contains a lot of sadness, but also lovely memories from the forgotten people... xox

  24. Beautiful and moving, makes me think to my grandmother <3 !

  25. This makes me feel so sad because of the way mental illness is viewed and has often been treated in the past. I support anything that is bringing awareness to it. This discovery and post is very fascinating.

  26. Absolutely chilling! I can not imagine the pain of all those people forgotten ... Thank you for this post so real, darling doll.

  27. Wow, the description of the asylum is mysterious and haunting. What historical treasures these are! Do you know where they are kept? I find the human mind to be very fascinating which is why my major is in psychology. I admit there is or was a stigma against mental illnesses and diseases that were not fully understood. Even today there is, even though it's not quite spoken. Sad, but true. -Jess L

  28. Wow!! This has been a hard post to read and see!
    I totally agree with Sacramento!!
    It´s very touching and really has amazed me!!
    Have a great thursday!!
    my little suede shoes

    1. it is...but one that needed to be seen and heard. The poor souls that didn't get to have their voice heard, they are now. I hope you have a wonderful weekend to come xoxox

  29. This is a very touchy subject. I could write a book about it but recalling certain memories would be too painful. Being deprived of one's dignity, locked up in hospital units, it still happens. Being looked as a weirdo and not helped because your mental illness doesn't allow you to understand you need help is the alternative.
    Coco et La vie en rose
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    1. I completely agree with you doll. They need so much more care and better treatment, they are still human beings despite it all. And should be treated as such xoxox

  30. Wonderful Post! Love love love your Blog ♡


    1. Thanks so much sweets, love love your blog too <3

  31. bel post (; Reb, xoxo.

    * Ho appena pubblicato un nuovo post, fammi sapere cosa ne pensi:

  32. Very moving and humbling post. Thank you for sharing.


  33. Such a touching and interesting post! It must have been heart-breaking for the people who were sent here to leave their families behind.

  34. Oh, these are such wonderful and interesting pictures!! But they also make me feel sad. I hope their family visited them sometimes, they must have missed them so much. How awful if they were just completely forgotten. I hope Charles got to play his zither too.

  35. Amazing!!!
    Have a wonderful weekend, dear Kizzy!!! and my g+!!!:)))

    Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

  36. This really breaks my heart...I often think about what it might have been like for people...especially in the old days, to have been put away for life...and the truly sad thing is that things like that happen even today, there is so much sorrow in the world just because people have this need to control everything and don't have the strength to love with all their heart or at least just live and let live.

    Thank you for sharing these photos and writing this wonderful post.


  37. Nice post, I love these very nice stuff

  38. It is very sad yet very hopeful post. The pictures are incredible. I hope for a better future:-) Also, not to be locked in a place like this one day:-)
    hugs from New York,
    Ask Erena

  39. Wow, how powerful are these images. amazing....

  40. This post gave me the creeps! lol And it was so sad too, to be forgotten like that :(


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