Curtain Call on the Dissertation Research

8 December 2010

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).

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Last day…for now!

3 July 2010

Last day: More artifacts & annual reports

It was a great Friday: spent the entire morning digging through boxes in the NY State Museum‘s storage room for artifacts from the Utica and Willard State Hospitals. Got to see some really interesting material! Among the coolest was Amariah Brigham‘s phrenological hat (for a film about how it works see this link – watch from 43 seconds in).

Finished off with the Utica annual reports in the afternoon + made it part way through the volumes of The Opal. Definitely am going to need to come back – I barely dented the materials held by both the Archives and the Museum!!

Heading back to NYC tomorrow AM and then it’s back on the overnight bus to Toronto. Next trip: Tim and I are driving across Canada to check out asylum and mental hospital museum collections! We leave next weekend.

Field trip!

2 July 2010

Day 4: I think I know the location of ark of the covenant

Today I got to go on a field trip to the NY State Museum‘s off-site storage facility!! I got driven out with some of the Museum’s employees in a passenger van to Rotterdam, about 30 minutes away, where the Museum stores the majority of its artifacts in this old ammunitions bunker. It was quite cool: a giant warehouse filled with items as far as the eye could see. Anything you could think of was in this place: furniture, cars from every era, boats, circus gear, clothing – and the Willard suitcase collection of course (pictured)!

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A cool stuff sandwich

1 July 2010

Day 3: Films, reports, and The Opal

I was worried about today after yesterday’s discouragements and was really in poor spirits when I woke up feeling horrible after eating some questionable pizza delivery last night….But I arrived to sign in at the Archives this morning only to find that my new favourite Curator, Craig Williams, had left me a gift! He gave me a copy of two films: one was made at Hudson River (circa 1960s) and the other at Utica (circa 1920s) – and they are so freakin’ cool! Both run along the same premise of tracing the path from admittance to discharge but in slightly different ways. I smell a film night when I get back to T.O.! (No, the links are not to the actual videos I got)

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Some days are just the wrong century

30 June 2010

Day 2: Slow digging

I’m not going to get discouraged. I’m not going to get discouraged. I’m not going to get discouraged. I’m not going to get discouraged. I’m not going to get discouraged. I’m not going to get discouraged. Repeat.

Dug through a cart’s worth of boxes today. Found a few cool items but the 20th century predominated – looks like there’s a great history-of-occupational-therapy-in-institutions project waiting for someone. There are some great photographs from the 1930s right up into the 1970s – unfortunately there were far fewer items from my selected century 😦

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NY State Archives

29 June 2010

Day 1: NY State Archives

Headed straight from Cheiron to Albany, NY via NYC (braved the Megabus again – ugh!) for 5 days at the NY State Archives and NY State Museum. Among other things, they hold the collections of the Willard and Utica State Hospitals.

Started today at the Archives: spent the day digging through the Willard photograph collection for materials related to th 19th century. So far, so good! Tons of photos and albums that show not only the buildings (exteriors and interiors) but also both patients and staff in action! Also got to see a large collection of glass slides from the nursing school.

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