Friday, May 9, 2008

From The Flint Journal: Mental hospital 'Suitcases' exhibit shows history of mental health care

From The Flint Journal –

by Elizabeth Shaw | The Flint Journal

Thursday May 08, 2008

Photographs of "Mrs. Ethel" (left) inmate #20756 and "Mlle. Madeline" #22040 are part of the exhibition at Mott Children's Health Center. Both women were admitted into Willard Psychiatric Center in the 1930s and died there more than 40 years later.

FLINT, Michigan -- Most people pack suitcases to travel somewhere.

These 427 bags and trunks were left by people with no place left to go.

"The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic" is a nationally acclaimed exhibit on the history of mental health care, open to the public through July 1 at Mott Children's Health Center.

In 1995, New York State Museum curators found the carefully wrapped and tagged luggage in an attic at the closed Willard State Hospital, built in 1869 in remote upstate New York as "the end of the road, the place of last resort," said Darby Penney, the exhibit curator and co-author of a book by the same name.

Each suitcase held the personal possessions of one of Willard's psychiatric patients from the late 19th and early 20th century, whose lives had been interrupted by illness, tragedy or simple bad luck.

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