Curtain Call on the Dissertation Research

Last Day: Now I really have to start writing.

I had a great start to my last day at the NY State Archives. Began the morning with three large boxes filled with framed photographs of the School of Nursing records from Utica State Hospital which ranged between 1888 to 1914. The photos included both graduating classes and staff photographs. It was really cool to see how the nursing and attendant uniforms changed even in a seemingly short period of time! I was also completely entertained by a photo with the caption: “Graduating Class 1901 Acting Up”. The students were feeding each other with spoons and combing one another’s hair and taking their pulses – it was absolutely hilarious (and reminded me very much of my favourite Münsterberg photo).

Next I moved onto the bindery and printing records from Utica. I was hoping that I would get some more information about the publication of the patient newsletter, The Opal, that I had looked at earlier in the week. It turned out to be (1) correspondence relating to the publication of the American Journal of Insanity (i.e., advertising, subscriptions, etc) and (2) the records of orders for various bound volumes for different institutions in NY state (i.e., ward records, account books, financial books, binding of sets of journals, etc) – not quite what I was hoping for (although the correspondence was a gold mine of asylum letterheads + I got a photo of Kirkbride’s signature!).

The rest of the day was spent back with the cart of mishmash boxes from Willard that I had been working with yesterday (photo top left). There continued to be an interesting mix of materials: reports, by-laws, rule books, etc. I had a crisis of conscience (twice!) as I was mid-way through two of the boxes and realized that some of the material dealt with the discharge of patients and listed their names  – i.e., materials that I had not applied for access to (Patient information in the U.S., regardless of the age of the material, is subject to HIPAA privacy restrictions). I gave the boxes back to the archivist (damn moral conscience). Guess I’ll have to put them on the list for “next time” to see what else was in the boxes…..

So that’s “it” for the dissertation research – no more trips planned (I’m already feeling the withdrawal pains). Maybe I could sneak a few trips to someplace local next semester….


2 Responses to Curtain Call on the Dissertation Research

  1. Sarah says:

    Craig just told me that you were in Albany battling the Archives. How is the research going? I had so much fun the last time you were here and maybe we can camp out again in storage some time. Or if you decide to come again in the spring you can spend more time at Rotterdam. I really enjoyed reading your blog and about all the different places you had a chance to see.

    • Hi Sarah! I’ll never say no to a trip back out to Rotterdam – or another chance to dig through the endless boxes you have in storage! Craig mentioned that Willard puts out a museum display every summer so I’m hoping to be able to swing through and see it – if I do, I’ll drop you guys a note and try to come by Albany again. In the meantime: it’s writing, writing, witing 🙂

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