The Boot Box Tragedy

An Australian murder-mystery from Rachael Weaver’s article “The Morgue" in Meanjin:

On 17 December 1898 three boys reported having seen a wooden trunk bobbing in the Yarra River near the Church Street bridge. The Richmond police soon managed to retrieve it—still floating though wired to a heavy stone. As they raised it from the water, the side of the box broke away, revealing a human leg, so they prised it open on the spot and found the naked body of a young woman. […] There was nothing to identify the woman’s body and so it was put on display in the hope that she would be recognised. Those who hurried to view it were described as ‘sensation-hunters eager to describe the appearance of the body to their acquaintances’. Parties of clairvoyants joined the throngs, offering their services to help unravel the mystery.

By 22 December, due to warm weather accelerating the deterioration of the corpse, authorities undertook to bury the body after first removing the jaws, which were missing several teeth, with a view to a future identification. But this was not to be. Two days after Christmas it was announced instead that the whole head had been severed from the body, plunged into a glass cylinder of methylated spirits, and placed on exhibition. The head alone continued to draw unparalleled public interest, but no useful information, so on 5 January 1899 two police detectives carried it to the General Post Office inside a cedar box. There it was removed from the spirits by cords that had been fixed to it for the purpose and mounted on a wire mesh partition in the letter carrier’s room where it was shown to all the city’s postmen that evening.

Find out what happened.

Morbid Anatomy: Théodore Géricault's Morgue-Based Preparatory Paintings for "Raft of the Medusa," A Guest Post by Paul Koudounaris

New article on Morbid Anatomy guest-authored by Paul Koudounaris (author of The Empire of Death, which I finally got my hands on this week) about Théodore Géricault’s preparatory studies for his most famous painting:

At the time, there were programs in local morgues to lend human remains to art students for anatomical study—something like a lending library of body parts. Géricault would take them home to study them as they went through states of decomposition. He was known to stash various heads, arms, and legs under his bed—or alternately store them on his roof—so he could continue to render them in increasingly putrid states and in various angles.

Read the whole thing.

Families Suffer Through Chicago Morgue Backlog

A very sad story from NPR:

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office was so far behind in burials for the poor that bodies have been stacking up. Conditions at the overcrowded morgue have been described as inhumane and unsanitary, and there are reports that the department has lost track of bodies. Following efforts to change its practices, the morgue is now trying to catch up and clean up.

Read/listen to the whole thing.


Photo by Scott Olson, Getty Images.

midnightgallery:

Autopsy photo of the guillotined criminal, Canute Vromant (1909)

midnightgallery:

Autopsy photo of the guillotined criminal, Canute Vromant (1909)

(via the-midnight-gallery-deactivate)

AP Wirephoto, 1963: Makeshift Morgue. Source: Photographic Morgue of the New York Journal-American, Harry Ransom Center.

Bodies of victims lay covered on the ice rink floor after an explosion rocked the Indiana State Fair Coliseum in Indianapolis during a Holiday on Ice show. 

You can read more about the explosion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which happened on Halloween night 1963 and killed 74 people, here.

AP Wirephoto, 1963: Makeshift MorgueSource: Photographic Morgue of the New York Journal-American, Harry Ransom Center.

Bodies of victims lay covered on the ice rink floor after an explosion rocked the Indiana State Fair Coliseum in Indianapolis during a Holiday on Ice show. 

You can read more about the explosion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, which happened on Halloween night 1963 and killed 74 people, here.

midnightgallery:

Albert Fournier, triple murderer and rapist, executed by Anatole Deibler, at Tours, in February 1920

midnightgallery:

Albert Fournier, triple murderer and rapist, executed by Anatole Deibler, at Tours, in February 1920

(via the-midnight-gallery-deactivate)

[International News Photo], “Identifying the Dead,” 1911. Source: Photographic Morgue of the New York Journal-American, Harry Ransom Center:

Police, family and friends go about the grim task of identifying the dead victims of the Triangle Shirt Waist Company fire.

[International News Photo], “Identifying the Dead,” 1911. Source: Photographic Morgue of the New York Journal-American, Harry Ransom Center:

Police, family and friends go about the grim task of identifying the dead victims of the Triangle Shirt Waist Company fire.

"Postcard of outdoor photograph of funeral and tent/morgue from the Cherry Mine disaster," 1909. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.
You can read more about the disaster (in Cherry, Illinois) here.

"Postcard of outdoor photograph of funeral and tent/morgue from the Cherry Mine disaster," 1909. Source: Wisconsin Historical Society.

You can read more about the disaster (in Cherry, Illinois) here.

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