After 10 years of research, Peter Stastny, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has coauthored The Lives They Left Behind, which examines the contents of 10 suitcases found in Willard State Hospital in Seneca County, which the state abandoned in 1995.
Two women who worked at the hospital remembered the suitcases in an attic of the Sheltered Workshop Building and shared the find with a curator from the New York State Museum. There were 427 suitcases in total.
For the next three years, interns and volunteers catalogued the items until meeting with officials from the NY State Office of Mental Health in 1998.
Darby Penney, who was the director of recipient affairs of the NYSOMH, learned about the find at the meeting and contacted Stastny to sign on board with the project.
Before coauthoring the book, Stastny and Penney joined with photographer Lisa Rinzler to collaborate on an exhibit at the NY State Museum in 2004, which featured about 20 suitcases.
©2008 Community News Group
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