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.
Now, photographer Jon Crispin is cataloging each suitcase and opening a window into the lives - and the minds - of the people deemed too unwell to be allowed in society.
Go here for more information and to sign up for notification on further development of the project http://www.willardsuitcases.com/ If you wish to donate to the project go here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/265363123/willard-asylum-suitcase-documentation/posts
The opening lines of Amazon Throne, by Bertita Harding:
The Queen of Portugal was mad….
She was Maria I of Braganza, and she came by her madness honestly. Her mother, the Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain, had been daughter to King Philip V, who with a tuberculous wife and a brace of neuropathic sons haunted the gloomy palace of the Escorial. Several uncles and cousins of Mariana Victoria also had been touched.
Perhaps it’s a comfort, in an insane asylum, to read of a mad queen.