Mourner at the Grave, Albumen Carte de Visite, Circa 1863 by lisby1 on Flickr.

"Copied by the London Photographic Compy., 1B Norfolk Terrace, Bayswater W., and 304 Regent Street W." This is a mass-produced sentimental image. The woman, dressed in widow’s mourning, laments at a real grave—however, it is too old a grave to be any of any freshly lost relative of her own. Thanks to modern technology the inscription can be read as “In affectionate remembrance of Frederick William Paige…who departed this life September 11, 1814, age 35.”

Mourner at the Grave, Albumen Carte de Visite, Circa 1863 by lisby1 on Flickr.

"Copied by the London Photographic Compy., 1B Norfolk Terrace, Bayswater W., and 304 Regent Street W."

This is a mass-produced sentimental image. The woman, dressed in widow’s mourning, laments at a real grave—however, it is too old a grave to be any of any freshly lost relative of her own. Thanks to modern technology the inscription can be read as “In affectionate remembrance of Frederick William Paige…who departed this life September 11, 1814, age 35.”

Scthye and Wheat Sheaf Memorial, Albumen Carte de Visite, Circa 1880 by lisby1 on Flickr.
Photo taken moments before the execution of prominent Mormon John Doyle Lee in 1877 for his role in the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre. Lee is shown seated on his coffin. 
Find out more about the massacre in this article on the Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog.
 

On March 28, 1877, John Doyle Lee, wearing a coat and scarf, took a seat atop the coffin where his body would lie. A photographer was nearby. Lee asked that whatever photograph was made be copied for his last three wives. The photographer agreed. Lee posed. And then an hour before noon, he shook hands with the men around him, removed his coat and hat and faced the five men of the firing party.
“Let them shoot the balls through my heart!” Lee shouted. “Don’t let them mangle my body!”
On U.S. Marshal William Nelson’s command, shots rang out in the ravine where so many shots had rung out twenty years before, and Lee fell back onto his coffin, dead.

(Image source:Wikipedia.)

Photo taken moments before the execution of prominent Mormon John Doyle Lee in 1877 for his role in the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre. Lee is shown seated on his coffin. 

Find out more about the massacre in this article on the Smithsonian’s Past Imperfect blog.

On March 28, 1877, John Doyle Lee, wearing a coat and scarf, took a seat atop the coffin where his body would lie. A photographer was nearby. Lee asked that whatever photograph was made be copied for his last three wives. The photographer agreed. Lee posed. And then an hour before noon, he shook hands with the men around him, removed his coat and hat and faced the five men of the firing party.

“Let them shoot the balls through my heart!” Lee shouted. “Don’t let them mangle my body!”

On U.S. Marshal William Nelson’s command, shots rang out in the ravine where so many shots had rung out twenty years before, and Lee fell back onto his coffin, dead.

(Image source:Wikipedia.)

This is a watchtower in Dalkeith Cemetery, near Edinburgh, Scotland. It was built in 1827, when folks—particularly in Scottish communities near the medical schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen—felt a real need to have their dead protected, and those with enough money were able to do something about it.
The well publicized crimes of the Williams Burke and Hare in 1827 and 1828—men who escalated body-snatching from mere grave-robbing to actual murder—didn’t help, either. Some communities built structures called morthouses to temporarily house the dead as they made their journey from freshness to putrefaction. This one is in Udny, in Aberdeenshire:

This particular morthouse is unique because of its clever design. Inside was a sort of lazy Susan for the dead. From Geograph: 

This circular stone building houses a revolving wheel upon which a coffin would be placed and kept securely under lock and key. When another body was deposited, the wheel would be turned slightly to accommodate the new coffin. Eventually, when a coffin had been rotated one full revolution, it could safely be buried because the corpse would be sufficiently decomposed as to be of no use to the body-snatchers.

Only a few of these structures still exist. Here’s a recent article about plans to restore a deteriorating morthouse in east Perthshire, Scotland.
Top image: Photograph by Kim Traynor, via Wikipedia. Bottom image: Lynette and Malcolm Johnson, via Geograph.

This is a watchtower in Dalkeith Cemetery, near Edinburgh, Scotland. It was built in 1827, when folks—particularly in Scottish communities near the medical schools in Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen—felt a real need to have their dead protected, and those with enough money were able to do something about it.

The well publicized crimes of the Williams Burke and Hare in 1827 and 1828—men who escalated body-snatching from mere grave-robbing to actual murder—didn’t help, either. Some communities built structures called morthouses to temporarily house the dead as they made their journey from freshness to putrefaction. This one is in Udny, in Aberdeenshire:

This particular morthouse is unique because of its clever design. Inside was a sort of lazy Susan for the dead. From Geograph: 

This circular stone building houses a revolving wheel upon which a coffin would be placed and kept securely under lock and key. When another body was deposited, the wheel would be turned slightly to accommodate the new coffin. Eventually, when a coffin had been rotated one full revolution, it could safely be buried because the corpse would be sufficiently decomposed as to be of no use to the body-snatchers.

Only a few of these structures still exist. Here’s a recent article about plans to restore a deteriorating morthouse in east Perthshire, Scotland.

Top image: Photograph by Kim Traynor, via Wikipedia.
Bottom image: Lynette and Malcolm Johnson, via Geograph.

“An account of a dreadful and barbarous murder […]." Broadside, 1836. Source: Harvard Law School Library. Found via the library’s Crime Broadsides Project.
Click to access Harvard’s zoom-able version.

An account of a dreadful and barbarous murder […]." Broadside, 1836. Source: Harvard Law School Library. Found via the library’s Crime Broadsides Project.

Click to access Harvard’s zoom-able version.

Photograph by Andreas Larsen Dahl. De Forest, Wisconsin, ca. 1880. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.

Funeral wreath of Caroline Keyser Preus, the wife of Lutheran minister Herman Amberg Preus.

Photograph by Andreas Larsen Dahl. De Forest, Wisconsin, ca. 1880. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.

Funeral wreath of Caroline Keyser Preus, the wife of Lutheran minister Herman Amberg Preus.

John Everett Millais, The Vale Of Rest, 1858-59. Tate Museum, London. Via WikiPaintings.
From the Tate’s website:

Of all the pictures that Millais created, this was his favourite. […] The nun on the left is digging a grave, which is positioned in such as way that the viewer appears to be in it alongside her. The second nun’s rosary has a skull attached to it. In the background a coffin-shaped cloud—a harbinger of death, according to Scots legend—appears in the evening sky. […]
One October evening, he was so taken by the beauty of the sunset that he fetched a large canvas and set to work immediately. Following the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic of truth to nature, he painted the bulk of the picture, including the figures, in the open air. The setting—excluding the tombstones, but including the terrace, shrubs and the wall in the background, with poplars and oak trees behind it—was Effie’s [Millais’ wife’s] family’s garden at Bowerswell, Perth. […] The grave and gravestones were painted some months later at Kinnoull old churchyard in Perth.

John Everett Millais, The Vale Of Rest, 1858-59. Tate Museum, London. Via WikiPaintings.

From the Tate’s website:

Of all the pictures that Millais created, this was his favourite. […] The nun on the left is digging a grave, which is positioned in such as way that the viewer appears to be in it alongside her. The second nun’s rosary has a skull attached to it. In the background a coffin-shaped cloud—a harbinger of death, according to Scots legend—appears in the evening sky. […]

One October evening, he was so taken by the beauty of the sunset that he fetched a large canvas and set to work immediately. Following the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic of truth to nature, he painted the bulk of the picture, including the figures, in the open air. The setting—excluding the tombstones, but including the terrace, shrubs and the wall in the background, with poplars and oak trees behind it—was Effie’s [Millais’ wife’s] family’s garden at Bowerswell, Perth. […] The grave and gravestones were painted some months later at Kinnoull old churchyard in Perth.

Andreas Larsen Dahl, Funeral Party around Casket. Deerfield, Wisconsin, ca. 1874. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.

A funeral party is assembled around a casket in front of an upright-and-wing frame house. Two older men on the left, one identified as Lars D. Reque, stand with bibles while several women wearing Norwegian-style patterned shawls are standing close to the casket. This is another house insured by the Hekla Fire Insurance Co., which sold to many Norwegian-American households in south central Wisconsin.

Andreas Larsen Dahl, Funeral Party around CasketDeerfield, Wisconsin, ca. 1874. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.

A funeral party is assembled around a casket in front of an upright-and-wing frame house. Two older men on the left, one identified as Lars D. Reque, stand with bibles while several women wearing Norwegian-style patterned shawls are standing close to the casket. This is another house insured by the Hekla Fire Insurance Co., which sold to many Norwegian-American households in south central Wisconsin.

(Source: allyssapower, via thanatomanie)

From Wikimedia Commons:

Public guillotining in Lons-le-Saunier, 1897. Picture taken on 20 April 1897, in front of the jailhouse of Lons-le-Saunier, Jura. The man who was going to be beheaded was Pierre Vaillat, who killed two elder siblings on Christmas day, 1896, in order to rob them and was condemned for his crimes on 9 March 1897.

From Wikimedia Commons:

Public guillotining in Lons-le-Saunier, 1897. Picture taken on 20 April 1897, in front of the jailhouse of Lons-le-Saunier, Jura. The man who was going to be beheaded was Pierre Vaillat, who killed two elder siblings on Christmas day, 1896, in order to rob them and was condemned for his crimes on 9 March 1897.

biomedicalephemera:

Exhumed cadaver. Buried 13 months. Wet, temperate climate. Very cool and rainy summer.
Trait des Exhumations Juridiques. M. Orfila and M. O. Lesueur, 1834.

biomedicalephemera:

Exhumed cadaver. Buried 13 months. Wet, temperate climate. Very cool and rainy summer.

Trait des Exhumations Juridiques. M. Orfila and M. O. Lesueur, 1834.

"James King of William: the patriot martyr of California / Portrait of Mr. King after death." J.M. Hutchings, ca. 1856. Source: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; via Calisphere.

Bust and postmortem portraits of editor of San Francisco Evening Bulletin, who was assassinated by James P. Casey on May 14th, 1856. The latter showing entrance and exit of fatal bullet. 

You can read more about James King of William and his storied death here and here on the Museum of the City of San Francisco website.

"James King of William: the patriot martyr of California / Portrait of Mr. King after death." J.M. Hutchings, ca. 1856. Source: Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley; via Calisphere.

Bust and postmortem portraits of editor of San Francisco Evening Bulletin, who was assassinated by James P. Casey on May 14th, 1856. The latter showing entrance and exit of fatal bullet. 

You can read more about James King of William and his storied death here and here on the Museum of the City of San Francisco website.

biomedicalephemera:

Exhumed cadaver. Buried 10 months.
150 years before the start of the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, medical anthropologists in France were (legally) exhuming cadavers of vagrants and unidentified persons. They were examining the postmortem changes in the body when the circumstances of death were known, and the body was buried or stored in various conditions. By studying known cases, they were more able to examine and identify cadavers of unknown origin, and re-examine exhumed cadavers when a death is deemed suspicious after burial.
The science of forensic anthropology languished and was largely ignored during most of the Victorian era, at least in the “Western” world. Even so, the work done by French physicians at the end of the 18th and into the 19th century provided a solid scientific foundation for when the field found much renewed interest, around the turn of the 20th century.
Trait des Exhumations Juridiques. M. Orfila and M. O. Lesueur, 1834.

biomedicalephemera:

Exhumed cadaver. Buried 10 months.

150 years before the start of the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, medical anthropologists in France were (legally) exhuming cadavers of vagrants and unidentified persons. They were examining the postmortem changes in the body when the circumstances of death were known, and the body was buried or stored in various conditions. By studying known cases, they were more able to examine and identify cadavers of unknown origin, and re-examine exhumed cadavers when a death is deemed suspicious after burial.

The science of forensic anthropology languished and was largely ignored during most of the Victorian era, at least in the “Western” world. Even so, the work done by French physicians at the end of the 18th and into the 19th century provided a solid scientific foundation for when the field found much renewed interest, around the turn of the 20th century.

Trait des Exhumations Juridiques. M. Orfila and M. O. Lesueur, 1834.

Post-mortem, unidentified young girl by George Eastman House on Flickr:

Maker: Southworth & Hawes Title: Post-mortem, unidentified young girl Date: ca. 1850 Medium: daguerreotype

Post-mortem, unidentified young girl by George Eastman House on Flickr:

Maker: Southworth & Hawes

Title: Post-mortem, unidentified young girl

Date: ca. 1850

Medium: daguerreotype

Skeletons, mummies, bog bodies, exhumations. The dead, and what happens to them.

About | Archive

Categories:
Meet This Dead Person
Feats of Preservation
Skulls and Skeletons
Bog Bodies
Mummies
Ossuaries and Bone Architecture
Incorruptibles and Saintly Relics
Exhumations
When Famous People Die
When Dead People Turn to Soap
Skeletons in Clothes
Dead People Sitting, Standing, or
     Made to Look Alive

Postmortem Photography
Death in Art
Death Masks
Crime
Suicide
Disease
War
Hearses
Executions
Accidents and Disasters
Funerals
Morgues, Funeral Homes, and the
     Business of Death

Mourning Customs and Imagery
Handling, Disposing of, and Storing
     the Dead

Posthumous Travels and
     (mis)Adventures

Cemeteries and Graveyard Scenes
Personal Details and Opinions
Personal Favorites
Just Plain Weird or Uncategorizable

My Elsewheres:
Slight Perceptual Problem
Old-Timey Cats
Old & Welsh

Sites I Like
Bess Lovejoy
Get Your Shit Together
Morbid Anatomy
Strange Remains
The Chirurgeon's Apprentice
The Order of the Good Death