These old abandoned suitcases once belonged to patients at Willard Psychiatric Center, New York.
In 1995, workers found the suitcases in a deserted building’s attic when the hospital shut down. The cases had been placed there for storage at some point between 1910 and the 1960s, each one taken from a newly arrived patient. Since people were often sent to the asylum for the rest of their lives (the average stay was over 30 years) and many had left family behind in foreign countries, the suitcases were never reclaimed.
Most of the patients who ended up at Willard were sent there against their will. In the 1950s, it wasn’t difficult for someone to get committed to a mental institution. All that was required was a certificate from a doctor. Many patients were simply rejected by society.