Packed Regrets and Stifled Memories

I recently stumbled across this collection of photographs featuring the suitcases left behind from patients at the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane. They belonged to patients from the 1910s to 1960s that passed away at the asylum. The suitcases were donated to the New York State Museum in 1995. In truth, each suitcase is a miniature museum of it's original owner; a tiny collection of their belongings and what they valued--glamorous clothing and family photographs, even eating utensils become mysterious and somehow significant pieces of lost history. Perhaps just as interesting are the suitcases that were found empty. The collection prompted Hunter Oatman-Stanford to ask, “If you were committed to a psychiatric institution, unsure if you’d ever return to the life you knew before, what would you take with you?” via


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