Memento Mori: Victorian Death Photos

28Aug09

Picture 1-124The invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 made portraiture much more commonplace, as many of those who were unable to afford the commission of a painted portrait could afford to sit for a photography session. This cheaper and quicker method also provided the middle class with a means for memorializing dead loved ones.

These photographs served less as a reminder of mortality than as a keepsake to remember the deceased. This was especially common with infants and young children; Victorian era childhood mortality rates were extremely high, and a post-mortem photograph might be the only image of the child the family ever had. The later invention of the carte de visite, which allowed multiple prints to be made from a single negative, meant that copies of the image could be mailed to relatives.

The earliest post-mortem photographs are usually close-ups of the face or shots of the full body and rarely include the coffin. The subject is usually depicted so as to seem in a deep sleep, or else arranged to appear more lifelike. Children were often shown in repose on a couch or in a crib, sometimes posed with a favorite toy or other plaything. It was not uncommon to photograph very young children with a family member, most frequently the mother. Adults were more commonly posed in chairs or even braced on specially-designed frames. Flowers were also a common prop in post-mortem photography of all types.

The effect of life was sometimes enhanced by either propping the subject’s eyes open or painting pupils onto the photographic print, and many early images (especially tintypes and ambrotypes) have a rosy tint added to the cheeks of the corpse.

Later examples show less effort at a lifelike appearance, and often show the subject in a coffin. Some very late examples show the deceased in a coffin with a large group of funeral attendees; this type of photograph was especially popular in Europe and less common in the United States. [Source]

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241 Responses to “Memento Mori: Victorian Death Photos”

  1. 1 pdxstargazer82

    The forth photo from the bottom is creepy… whats with the person standing behind the chair? Is that some kind of double exposure?

    • 2 Joseph

      About the time these types of pictures were popular, a technique called “spirit photography” was also popular. Used to make it appear as if a ghost or spirit is present. It is an interesting picture.

      • I could kill myself for not keeping a book that I found many years ago, that was about spirit photography and how to do it. The images were amazing. My favorites were of a woman sitting on a couch with the heads of JFK and Martin Luther King hovering above (two separate photos). This was before imaging on computers was possible.

        • 4 Robert

          its as easy as changing the shutter speed..or superimposition during processing/printing. it’s easily done even without technological aid. 🙂

          • 5 Explain

            Many SLR have the option to no advance the roll between shots (called multiple exposure). Another way of get the effect is, under low light condition, to keep open the shutter and firing flashes with the subject(s) changing their position, and finally closing the shutter.

            Given the low sensitivity of the old films, the last technique was even easier by then than now (remember the phrase “keep really steady!” in the movies?)

    • 6 Pumpkin

      To me it looks like the “ghost” is the same as the person in the photo. I believe what may have happened to be they started to take the photo with the corpse in one pose from one angle then decided to take another one from another angle instead, but photography equipment being expensive, had to use the same photographic film and the first exposure had already started to set in.

    • 7 Shannon

      Joseph-

      The picture of the boy appears to be his twin, sometimes when parents would lose one of their twins they would have the other twin stand next to them or behind them, they would do the same with siblings.

    • 8 gotha

      yes, the glass was used for multiple photography. the glass washing was difficult, those are remains from other pictures

    • 9 Dakk

      It’s a double exposure. Notice that the “ghost” is the same person seated in the chair, just captured from a different angle.

      Probably done on purpose to either show his spirit lived on or it’s an early type of double exposure print we make today with an image of someone covering the biggest part of the picture and a smaller profile view of them in a top corner of the picture.

    • It’s called a shadow, light makes it when it hits objects

    • 11 rebecca

      Because the images took so long to record if you have a person stand in the image for half the time this is what will occur. Think of it as taking 3 snapshots and in the middle one you say raise your hands if you look through it fast it has the same effect.

  2. pdxstargazer82: it is actually a fake ghost made by an early photographer who told people he could photograph ghosts in his post-mortem work. The post-mortem pic is real though.

    • 13 xx_jann_xx

      How old are you REALLY? You seem to know a lot of stuff… xD
      Belated happy birthday to you, btw.

      >#2’s creepy. are his eyes open?
      .#9 (the baby sleeping on what seems to be a leaf) looks like an artwork or something. Hmm, I want a post-mortem picture too!!!

      • I am 35 today 🙂

        • 15 xx_jann_xx

          oh, so it isnt belated then. HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! ^^

        • 16 KaMa

          we share the same birthday 🙂
          great piece of work here. and you have certainly learned your lesson 🙂

  3. 17 downhighway61

    Those old style coffins add to the creepiness of the photos. It’s hard to think that these people are dead in the pictures, they look like they’re sleeping.

    • I agree – they are very spooky looking – especially when the corpse seems to not fit particularly well!

  4. These are very sad, especially the young children. How on earth did they get the live siblings (the very young ones) to hold still long enough to get such clear pictures? I don’t know any small children that can stay still for that long!

    • I think kids in the Victorian times were used to being much more self-controlled than modern kids who are usually allowed to move about as they please. I am not sure I would be able to stand still sufficiently long for one of those photos!

    • 21 Sam

      Child abuse was legal back then… those kids had the fear of god in them. our society has become pussified

      • 22 Lori Clevenger

        im not sure how to take this post. i certainly do not consider these photos to be classic child abuse. society was different then, death was looked upon in a different , more practical manner than it is today. it was an all too frequent occurence. and i hope you arent suggesting that an abused child is “pussified”. i dont understand the reason for your statement if you arent. child abuse has nothing to do with “the fear of God”. its about the fear of a violent parent.

        • 23 Purgatori

          @Lori
          I guess what Sam only tries to say (clearly with use of wrong words, hence your and other following comments) that. Parents in those days didn’t get questioned if they occasionally slapped their children. I don’t concur of those actions, but it never failed it’s effect on My childhood. Nowadays parents even need to take very much care of not being accused for even a little spank on the bottom.
          And just look around…do you get much respect out of nowadays generation of children?
          I learned respect, maybe not in the good way but then I learned very fast
          People back then where more religious than now, so I can understand his words, And no it does not have to be the fear of a “violent” parent. There where (even are still) enough “rules” of the “Beloved” God that just were intended to scare children/people so much that they would just behave just because they didn’t want to end up in hell.
          And finally, our society is going to hell, no one never shows respect anymore for no one and nothing…just watch the news and read the news papers.

          • 24 Penny Lane

            Our society is not going to hell. Our society in many ways is much better than it ever has been. We don’t enslave people, we don’t deny people basic rights, we give women equal rights, no more Jim Crow laws. These “good old days” people imagine never existed.

            And you don’t have to hit or make a child fearful to get respect. My daughter has never been hit, never been given a reason to fear me and is one of the sweetest most well behaved children I see. (She’s also being raised by atheists! Go figure!)

          • 25 jinsomnia

            The children were often given Opium to keep them quiet and out of the way, especially in families with farming or other “busy” type work to do.

          • 26 wtf

            @Purgatori: my take on the photos (the real subject of the original posting that’s sparked so much controversy on the side) is that victorian children were much more accustomed to death than modern children are. just look at how many of the photos were of infants and small children. life expectancy was much shorter back then and infant mortality was incredibly high due to lack of proper hygenic practices and an ignorance even in the medical profession about what could cause and/or encourage infection. small children in victorian times had seen siblings, cousins, and friends die and though sad, it wasn’t particularly shocking to them. children were also often raised with a much sterner religious outlook. parents were warned from the pulpits (“spare the rod and spoil the child”) that if they didn’t use physical punishment their children would turn unruly and ungodly. add to that the fact that children were seen primarily as a reflection of the parents in those days – they were meant to be seen and not heard. children in those days didn’t have the carefree “childhood” that children nowadays are so entitled to. they were raised to do as they were told or there would be consequences (physical abuse, bed without supper, being locked in a closet or some unused part of the house were all common punishments for children in those days). if your parents told you to stand very still next to your dead sibling so that a photo could be taken, then you stood very still. period.

            to comment on all the other responses about child abuse being common then and not now and the lack of respect modern children have for adults, i will say this: i am a career nanny. i raise other people’s children for a living. i’ve never had to raise my hand to any of them. time-outs, loss of privileges, and being grounded are all effective if practiced correctly and consistently. the problem that i see with time-outs most often is that parents are not consistent or don’t do them correctly, or both. parents work so much outside the home that they don’t want to be the disciplinarians when they come home to their children. they just want to have fun time with the kids. so, often, the children are placated with toys or candy or sweet talk and promises of treats later on. it’s often not until these inducements fail repeatedly that the parents finally resort to “time-out”. even then, they don’t tell the children why they are on time-out, and often the length of time the children are expected to stay on time-out is dictated not by the child’s age or by what wrong they’ve done, but by the frustration or impatience of the parent. often the children are placed on time-out or in their beds for longer than should be expected for a child that age and the child goes into melt-down screaming and crying for the entire lengthy time. and when the parents have finally had enough of listening to their child crying/screaming they call off the time-out and kiss and cuddle the child until he calms down again. all this teaches the child is that if they throw a big enough fit or get sufficiently worked up, they will get 10 – 15 minutes of uninterrupted cuddle time with the parent. my point is, i suppose, that you don’t have to use physical discipline to elicit good behavior from children. but you do have to use discipline and be fair and consistent with it.

        • 27 JB

          Sam was responding to the posts above.

          Question (BooRadley):

          “How on earth did they get the live siblings (the very young ones) to hold still long enough to get such clear pictures? I don’t know any small children that can stay still for that long!”

          Answer (Sam):

          “Child abuse was legal back then… those kids had the fear of god in them. our society has become pussified”

          Ie, the kids stayed still because they thought they would get a hiding it they didn’t. It’s a tongue in cheek response, not an endorsement of child abuse. “Fear of God” is a turn of phrase, I doubt very much Sam was making a religious statement. And “i hope you arent suggesting that an abused child is “pussified”” – Errr, that’s exactly what he’s NOT saying.

        • 28 Cari Daugherty

          Thank you. I know this is a very old posting,but when I read the word “pussified,it reminded me of the nastiness of this world that is happening right now. I guess that even before the current administration there were people that “told it like it is”,( at least in there own little minds ,a good thing). It’s a shame that our current president has made it acceptable for people to behave poorly.

      • 29 Brianna

        Child abuse does not make one tough except in the way that they can tolerate more abuse than the regular person. Why this would be a good thing I do not know.

        What it does though is to teach the child that violence is a viable solution to problems, how to lie and how to be very sneaky. And to have no respect for older larger people except that they are physically stronger.

        Do you really think this is a good thing? I guess everyone has an opinion.

        I think these kids were probably exposed to death much more than children are today. It was common to have the wake at the house. They may have been a bit creeped out but may have had viewed many other family members in a similar setting.

      • 30 Tracy

        Sam, I sure as hell hope you don’t have kids. Yes children were “brought up by the strap”, but not every child was abused, then or now. As for a fear of God(?) My God is a loving god, a forgiving god, a god who loves me no matter how much my father (biological) beat the hell out of me, and oh boy, did he ever. I didn’t think I would ever forgive him, but with time, and a whole lot of prayer, I realized he was just doing the same thing his parents did to him. Not all children are abused, not all parents are child abusers. You may want to get down on your knees at this point and either ask god to forgive you, your parents, or whatever set of circumstances which led you to make such a statement. All you really have to do is ask for understanding and compassion. He is really amazing at that. Try it. I did, and guess what, it worked. In His grip. Tracy

        • 31 erick

          wt is wrong with u ppl? only white ppl consider smackin their kids around for the sake of knockin some sense into dem a horrible unforgivable sin lmao. if your kid backtalks you or calls you disrespectful names or doesnt do what you tell him to do at all are u jus goin to pat him on the back or try to “sweet talk” him thru it. hell no ill give him a quick smack to the mouth that he wouldnt see coming jus to shut him up n let him know to respect me cuz im his parent. then we can talk about it after. jesus you ppl are so dramatic

          • 32 Cristina

            Erik, Finally someone who makes sense. I agree with you 100%. Parents have become so paranoid to spank their kids it’s pathetic. An occasional spanking for discipline reasons is NOT child abuse. Some parents do time outs (and for some kids it’s enough, although I have yet to see it) other parents have to resort to a more “hands on” approach (pun intended). Not all kids are the same and as such, different discipline methods have to be used. I get the biggest kick out of people who automatically consider spanking your kids to be child abuse. I was 16 the last time I got a beating from my mother (in front of my friend too) and you know what? I DESERVED it. And I turned out a very good person who respects others, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t smoke, never been arrested and believes in God VERY MUCH. Oh, and I never had to see a therapist either…imagine that!

          • 33 Matin Luther

            Yeah, could explain why there are an inordinate number of crimes committed by black people. Maybe you should look at the reality of the situation and quit making it seem like black people have proper raising of children superior – how many single mothers are there in your “culture”?

          • 34 Cristina

            Matin, I’m white and was raised in Europe and agree with Erik about the discipline methods…not the part about white people “consider smackin their kids around for the sake of knockin some sense into dem a horrible unforgivable sin”…I think all parents (black, white, brown, green) equally feel that way nowadays. Everyone is afraid of spanking their kids because the public and media have forced them to think this way…oooh don’t spank your kids cause that’s child abuse and we’ll take your kids away from you. So they take the easy way out and raise spoiled kids who have no responsibility and feel like they are entitled to everything in life and then suffer from “depression” when life doesn’t give them what they want and when they want it. And I know that not all parents do this but as the mother of two young chiIdren, I see more and more parents doing it and less and less parents using spanking and instilling respect in their kids.

          • 35 Penny Lane

            Yes, and how is this a race issue? No offense but you are going to go by pure statistical behavior of races I think you have your answer PRETTY CLEARLY.

          • 36 Tracy

            Erick U iz da dummass here! First of all, the whole white thing? Really, give me a break. The only thing that violent behavior teaches a child is that it is ok to hurt someone.Children learn what they live. I can only pray that at some point in your life you will chooose not to procreate. God knows how your children would cope with your inane stupidity and your outlook on battering children. Did you send this from an asylum? I think you are crazy and don’t have enough life experience to promote an agenda of violence on this website, take it to myspace, there may be another like minded fool out there who is as stupid as you are.

          • 37 Gypsie Rose

            its a shame that even here an ignorant racist would place total bullshit. congrats on showing your ignorance.

          • 38 Gypsie Rose

            yes i was raised in almost a total black apartment complex. you would be happy to know that every black child i saw was slapped and kicked around by their mother and father my family and 2 other white families were way different thank god. i was never slapped or kicked around. maybe you should grow a brain and possibly take a census before you judge every white person you never met. geez some black people are stupid. thanks for pushing the black stereotype there darkie.

          • 39 bunny olesen

            yeah, and it’s all worked out so well for the black community, right? Ignorant bastard. Just because we don’t want to ‘smack our kids in the mouth’ which IS child abuse, you garbage can – doesn’t mean we ‘pat them on the back’ if they backtalk. As far as ‘calls you disrespectful names’ I have no idea what you are talking about. My son called me MOM and that’s all he ever called me. If your kids called you disrespectful names, it’s because smacking people in the mouth DOES NOT TEACH RESPECT – it only teaches hate and more abuse.

            The #1 cause of death for black american males ages 14-35 is homicide at the hands of another black person
            #1 cause of death for black american females ages 14-35 is homicide at the hands of a current or former ‘partner’. WONDER WHY ??? If you are an example of the parenting skills involved.

        • 40 froggy

          “I realized he was just doing the same thing his parents did to him”: my own father used to beat me, but what he did to me the same thing that his parents did… to his sister. He was never beaten himself (except the occasional slap or spanking), but reproduced on me the beatings and humiliation he saw his parents do to my aunt.

          I still didn’t find it in me to forgive him. I don’t feel compelled to forgive him, either. Nothing forces me to forgive someone who never asked for forgiveness because he doesn’t even admit he ever did anything wrong.

          • 41 Shalon

            sorry, chiming in late here. Just wanted to say… forgiveness has nothing to do with the person who did the bad. they probably don’t know or care that you haven’t forgiven them. Forgiveness is more for the person who had the bad done to them.

          • 42 Brianna

            Froggy honey, holding a grudge is like drinking poison every day and hoping that it kills the other person.

            Nothing forces you to forgive. I have neither forgiven or forgotten but I have moved on and put that part of my life behind me…for the most part….once in a while I remember something and it raises its ugly head. But I am not holding a grudge, I get along with all of my immediate family now….inlaws, that is another story 🙂

        • 43 Tracy

          screw all you freaks who do not know that God exists. I guess I won’t be seeing you when I stand before God, give Him an accounting of my life, and hear the beautiful words, Well done my good and faithful servant. GO BUY A BIBLE AND READ IT

          • 44 Gremikin

            For all your high-minded preaching, you sure don’t act according to the virtues of humility and compassion that the Christian Church promotes in its members.

            Hell, you’re not even acting like a rationale human being.

          • 45 Elizabeth

            Tracy, why do you and every other conservative Christian have to beat your beliefs into everyone else? That’s precisely why I choose not to be identified as a Christian. I don’t have a problem with the concept of a God, only with his or her followers.

            Speaking of spoiled kids of the present, all of you zealot Christians sound like kids jockeying to be the teacher’s pet. “God loves ME more than you! Maybe if you do what *I* say, God will love you, too! Otherwise, you’re all going to hell and I’m going to be rewarded – nyah nyah nyah!”

            The fact is, if you are in fact a Christian, you’d best read your Bible for comprehension and accept that a loving God plays no favorites. Accept also that you don’t have any more clue than the rest of us as to who would or would not be deemed to have lived a worthy enough life to deserve a Heaven. You and those like you aren’t God, St. Peter or any other religious authority figure; you just desperately want to believe you’re more special.

            I feel sorry for you, but honestly, the thought of being stuck in a so-called Heaven with people like you would be my version of Hell.

          • 46 Steph

            If I’m going going to read a fictional book It certainly will be something far more interesting then that ridiculas black book of fairy tales called the bible..lol..Either you suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy or you’re just simple minded..My money is on the latter..lol

      • 47 Tracy Ryan

        I don’t understand why anyone would use abusive and ugly words.This is the very seminal moment they are or have experienced. They were actually very private and dignified in these pictures. They are barely able to grasp the concept of death and are stoic and poised due to the extremely slow apeture and lengthy exposure. I do not claim to know it all, I can never know why things we are unable to control or change happen every second of every day, I only know that these beautiful souls, were aching for the beautiful souls that have slipped the surly bonds of earth and touched the face of God. I can only hope that a block head like you, can find your Bible, blow the accumulated dust of a thousand years off, and hope you don’t choke on the ensuing tsunami of dust and decay. God did not intend to let us live eternally on earth, that is why He gave us a free will. We have the choice, the gift, the best insurance in the UNIVERSE. The part that still brings me to my knees, is that the Premiums have all been paid. For me, before I was concieved, so that I may know the incredible joy that comes from a child, God’s only son, who died for me, rose again and beat the devil with two crossed sticks.

        • 48 Arvind

          Sorry Tracy..
          you’re saying nothing about the subject and everything about Jesus Christ and how Christianity views God!

          Here’s an idea – stick to the subject!
          For God’s word – please head to the nearest church.

          • 49 Tracy

            Hey Arvind, you are missing the bigger picture here, but I am sure everything will be explained to you in HELL. Take some suncreen, I hear it’s hot and fiery down there. Oh, here’s a great idea, if I don’t make it to heaven, maybe you and I can be room buddies in Hell. I could preach to you non stop. Won’t that be fun!!!!

        • 50 froggy

          “”The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector”.

          “Whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire”.

      • 51 mary

        Jeez, learn to take a joke people.

        • 52 the creeper

          “God” people dont know what jokes are, so you can’t expect them to understand. I agree with Sam though and hope he has kids someday. They will probably be a lot better behaved than the little beasties that run around today verbally abusing teachers, fighting their parents, and generally misbehaving. And yeah, our country has become a little “pussified”. Parents are scared to death of their children being forcefully taken from them for being spanked or otherwise disciplined. I read an article about a couple who was having their children taken from them for having pics of the children in the bathtub. yeah, okay, that would be weird if it was a teenager, but these were babies. Who doesn’t have a pic of their baby in the bathtub at one point? Hell, I have a few, and I know there are some of me that my parents have. ANYWAY- I was never beaten when i was a child, but i was spanked- and i will probably do the same with my son.
          as for the Fear of God, if he’s real, he’s a scary dude. After all, he killed a couple million people at least in the bible. Some for looking around their shoulder, some for just being the firstborn son of someone who didnt believe in him (that is not a just, fair and kind God).
          ANYWAY AGAIN! good job on this post. it was interesting and verrrry creepy. The little babies are very sad 😦 and none of these people look particularly old which is even sadder, but life expectancy being what it was at the time, that’s not surprising. I enjoyed this very much, except for the idiotic comments which i need to stop reading because they are simply infuriating.

          • 53 Lori Clevenger

            joke? what joke? i didn’t see one. anyone else?

          • 54 Laurie Keller (Fulk)

            Lori… I think I know you!!! I went to school with your neices Jessie and Sue!!! I hope that is you!!

          • 55 Lori Clevenger

            sorry Laurie, i have several nieces but none by those names..i dont think im the right one!

          • 56 missmackensie

            Dear oh dear!!..American people!!…..lunatics one and all!!…and there are so many!!!……I could relate somewhat to “Creepers comments” but then even he/she began to concern me towards the end of it…Been to the USA a few times (both coasts) and found you all to be extremely loud, bordering on aggressive, overweight, and bossy.. yet strangely naiive, unsophisticated and childlike…a very worrying recipe for disaster!! Are there any really normal, intelligent, reserved and level-headed people over there? or are all of you tarred with same hysteria brush? Behave yourselves Americans..you come across in a very bad light to we English!

          • 57 Lori Clevenger

            @missmackensie…excuse me? since when do Americans have the corner on lunacy, loudness, and aggressiveness? pehaps you should reread your own post and subject yourself to your own judgemental attitude. im not too worried about how i appear to “you English”…apparently you arent too worried about how you appear to “we Americans” either..based on that post…pretty rude.

        • 58 Tracy Ryan

          I just have to wonder what you consider a joke? I buried a baby 18 years ago, and didn’t find a damn thing funny about it.

    • 59 Gina

      I believe that legal access to laudanum (morphine) was a factor in keeping the kids still enough to take the pictures.

    • 60 Nicolle

      I am sure that back then, death was common. Some people aren’t scared of death. It’s a part of life. And you have to think, this was wayyy before medical technology stepped into place. Death wasn’t abnormal to them I’m sure. But it is sad to see all the deceased babies.
      The fourth one from the bottom looked fake though. And yeah… half of them look like they were sleeping. The first pic.. the girl with her parents… I don’t know if they painted her eyes on her face or not, but she looks like a younger version of her mother.

  5. They look like they’re only sleeping. That little boy in the rocking chair is one of the creepiest pictures I’ve ever seen though. Eeegh. DX

    • I agree – the addition of the color to the image makes it even worse! He looks like a demonic doll (though I shouldn’t speak ill of the dead I guess).

    • 63 jinsomnia

      It looks like his pupils and cheeks are painted on. That adds to the boo boo jeebies factor.

  6. 64 just a thought

    We live in a society so detached from real death, from honest grieving that to see people who may truly have attempted to make some sense of it, to find some peace therein makes us feel weird and causes us to label their behavior as strange. Peace be with those who have left us and peace to those who have lost loved ones. Respect grief. Honor yourself by grieving.

    • 65 michelle

      I agree with the act of honoring grief. How can one truely recover to a state of peace without allowing themselves to go through the process. In our current times are are expected to just keep on as though nothing happened even in the face of death. It is almost as though some are ashamed of having deep feelings. Complex feelings and rituals are part of what makes us human. In recent years American society has been stepping further and further away from rituals.

    • I agree as well – which is why I love to cover subjects that deal with mortality. Memento mori means just that- remember death.

  7. 67 Jenni

    Wow….all those dead children. That makes me so sad. Maybe it’s just me, but with all the cost of a funeral (because I’m sure they were never cheap), this expensive photograph just adds to the financial pain. Not to mention that the only picture the people left alive have is of their loved one, already dead.
    I’m glad this didn’t transfer over to modern times (despite all the advances in photography). Can you imagine getting all dressed up to go pose for a picture with your deceased whomever?

    • I absolutely agree that I am glad it is part of the past and not the present. But it certainly does give us another insight into a particularly interesting time in Western history – the Victorian age.

      • 69 Kirsten

        Actually in the cases of stillbirth and infant deaths pictures are often taken with and of the child. This isn’t unusual or strange but again part of the process of grieving.
        Society has removed itself from death and grief… its really really too bad. Especially for those of us grieving the loss of children who aren’t allowed to grieve because people are uncomfortable with it…

        • 70 anon

          My bF`s daughter died in his arms 2 years ago ( she was 4 days old ) and they took a picture of him with her in his arms , as they also took pictures of her in her tiny casket. Some people deal with their grief different than others , I couldnt deal with pictures of me taken with my dead loved one. My Aunt after my father died wanted me to take his picture and send it to her. I could not do it , having a picture like that would only make me relive the pain of their death . My relatives at my mothers funeral took pictures and wanted to give me one , I took my mothers death hard , I still mourn her after 9 yrs. I could never deal with having a picture of a dead loved one.

    • 71 chichi

      quess, it is not practical taking picture back then. When you loose someone you maybe thinking of expenses and pain. But look at them….. even though they loose someone they are still trying to have their decease family member on their picture.. it looks like family picture….

      i really love the picture of a dead wearing blank in a couch taking picture of her half body. it is really interesting and beautiful.

      • 72 Donnie

        I am 39 and take photos myself of dead loved ones.

        • 73 Annelise

          I’ve taken pictures of my deceased loved ones since I was a child. They are my most loved possessions. I personally assisted in the preparation of my beloved Gran for the grave, and it was a privilege!

  8. I’m very drawn to memento mori…as creepy as they sometimes seem. In the days when this practice was commonplace…to NOT have a post mortem photo would have been more unusual than having one.There is a company in the US “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” (I think they’re in Colorado) and they are a non’profit that takes photos of babies who have just died, for parents who, otherwise, have nothing to remember their child.

  9. 75 esther

    #24: why is there a half coloured woman behind the boy?! ghost?!

    • 76 Heather

      Half-coloured woman?? Ok, I’m going to assume you mean the double-exposture. Other wise I’m going to question how you know what her race is and what decade you live in because no one uses the term “coloured” any more.

  10. 77 amgriffin

    As recently as the mid to late 1970’s I had older relatives who would photograph the deceased at family wakes, funerals and visitations. My siblings and I were always horrified by it, I guess because we didn’t understand that at one time it was considered normal and acceptable. Of course, they didn’t move the corpse about but only photographed it lying in the coffin. I sometimes wonder who has those photos now.

  11. 78 sagirl

    As eerie and creepy as this seems, it is just a very creative, workable solution to the technological hindrances of the time. Makes sense if you just put yourself in their shoes.

  12. 79 Raidered

    I don’t see these as eerie or creepy, but sad, especially the ones with the children. I cannot imagine being made to pose with my recently deceased brother or sister, or with a family photo. I just think of the parents who have to hide their grief to create maybe the only photo they will ever have of their child.

    • 80 Openeyed

      And maybe the only photo of the families also. Photography in Victorian times was relatively rare and expensive. I think that is why they were always posing with the dead.

  13. 81 liyah

    i have both your websites bookmarked! ugh…i think I’m becoming obsessed hehe

  14. 82 Adriana

    i find number # 9 as a resting angel , so sad so many dead children ,it find this practices extremely creepy but on the other hand whis will be the only memory of your dead children

  15. 83 Astrid

    In the early 1940s my aunt took the only photo of her newborn son in his coffin. Decades later this photo and one she took of my grandfather scared the bejeesus out of me.
    In the 1980’s I threw the only hysterical tantrum in my life and said that she would not EVER take a picture of my brother in his coffin and add him to her morbid collection.

    • Was she taking them for reasons of morbidity or for memories? I know some people do still have a photo taken of a stillborn baby as there are no others.

      • 85 Astrid

        With her son it was the only photo or even evidence of his existence as she had no other children. My own horror at her pictures was lessened when I understood the almost visceral need for a connection to your child when they have died. It was ALL she had.

    • I have a friend overseas who sent a select few of us pictures of his son after his birth. Unfortunately the baby was stillborn. Those of us who were sent the pictures, who he allowed to grieve with he and his family, were actually honored to be part of his healing. My family also has a private collection of the last moments before our loved ones were interred. For us these are not morbid but merely a way to remember. The memory of a person’s death is just as valid and just as important as the memory of their life.

      • 87 Heather

        A couple of years ago, a friend of mine lost his son at birth. The only photos they were able to take were post-mortim. They were so touching and sad.

  16. 88 kofeelite

    when my mom passed in ’84, her family came from Newfoundland for her funeral. They asked me to take photographs, I just couldn’t. I think the practice is morbid but I can understand why people in earlier times would have it done, they didn’t get to have “Kodak moments” the way we do today…

    • You are right about kodak moments – most people these days are photographed a LOT – it really is unnecessary for us to take photos of the dead now.

      • 90 Brianna

        Everybody grieves in different ways. I say do it if it makes you feel better.

        Nobody takes pictures of me except for me. My family just does not do that anymore.

        Personally I prefer to remember a person as they looked in life, but that is just me…..I will not speak for everyone else.

  17. 91 MissMeggle

    Jfrater- Just an Idea but is there any way to number the images? Just think it would make commenting individual images easier.

    • Yes – I will do that in future. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

  18. 93 Mathilda

    These are fascinating. They make me think of a funeral I went to a few years ago; the funeral home had webcams set up. If I remember correctly, there was one which would show the corpse and one which would show the room and visitors (from the corpse’s perspective, I guess). They said that they still did not use them that often, but they did upon occasion. The deceased’s family could request either one or both of the cams be turned on, and they would be given a password to supply to relatives or friends who for either geographic or health reasons could not attend in person. I was a bit taken aback at first, especially by the one focused on the corpse, but after I thought about it I realized that it was probably used to have one last view of someone that had not been seen in a while and would not be seen again. (The funeral that I was at was not on streaming video, just for anyone who might be curious.)

    Happy birthday, jfrater!

    • Wow – that really sounds much worse than the photographs here! And thanks for the birthday wishes 🙂

  19. 95 sandra boo

    i find these photos fasinating and sad it shows a wonderfull insite into the short
    life span ,especialy in small children and infants also the young age of most of the people i belive they had a better understanding of death than us we have a stiff upper lip view now of death we should be more relaxed as they were

  20. 96 maria

    Hi! Thanks for this article. I find it very interesting. I must give you some props for finding all these photos which are really bizarre but at the same time, very interesting. I find some of the photos creepy, like the woman in the black dress laid on the white (is it a tabletop?) with her husband standing. Very sad about the kids – especially those twin babies. I agree with one of the posters who said it’s a good thing these photos didn’t carry on to modern times and that person who said something about these photographs being very costly and to have only one photo taken of the dead relative.

    Anyway, good post and I’ll be checking your site often. Thanks!

  21. There is a group at Flickr that has only these kinds of photos. I was there months ago and looked at all of them. I cant find it now and its bothering me.
    I find these fascinating.

    I have two children in heaven (one stillborn and one miscarriage) and I took lots of photos of them.

    • I am sorry to hear about your loss. I have seen a website where a photographer does post-mortem photography for hospitals for that very reason.

  22. Jamie – I, too, love old photographs. I always head straight to them in any antique stores I enter. When I was very sick from cancer, I spent a lot of time (and money, unfortunately) on EBay looking for old photos. I have a collection of people with their dogs, and a collection of children in goatcarts. Now, thanks to you, I want to start a collection of memento mori… I tried Ebay, but there were none I could afford, so I have it as a saved list – they will notify me by email each time a new one comes in. Thanks a lot for starting me on a new, very expensive hobby! Maybe you’d like to chip in a bit? No? Well, hmmph…

    • BooRadley: I was actually thinking about seeing whether I could buy some as well.

      • 101 gabi319

        Hey you two!
        It’s hard enough to determine the fakes from the authentic in person if someone doesn’t know what to look for and it’s even harder online. Auction houses and galleries are your best bet (although they jack up the price even more there so that everyone gets a cut). iPhotoCentral.com is one of the few places online that I’d trust because it seems fairly legit – basically like a middle man between the buyer and an established art gallery (but that also means the price is inflated even more). I haven’t seen a lot of memento mori photos there, though. I like to look at what they have to offer even though there is no way I could spare that kind of cash, lol. Your best bet to find “cheap” (because these’ll always be expensive) memento mori photographs would be going to a Photo Convention, Photo Fair or Trade Show. I looked around and there’s one in London on September 6th. Everyone, it’s time for a road trip! or rather, plane trip, lol.

        Here’s a decent article on determining a fake:
        http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/tips/historicphotos.html

  23. 102 Looser

    the baby ones are sad

  24. 103 MikeB

    The boy in the rocking chair has eyes painted on his eyelids. Not an uncommon practice.

  25. 104 MikeB

    And I think photo #2 might as well.

  26. 105 imcrystalclear

    I find these photographs intriguing. When my mom died in 1990 my sister took a picture of her laying in the coffin. Several months later I was going through my pictures and came across it. It literally frightened me to where I screamed. My mom died of cancer and lost a lot of weight because of the disease and when she died she didn’t look like what I remembered her looking like. Now I have that picture burned in my mind. I now wish my sister hadn’t taken the picture, or at least I wish she hadn’t given me a copy. It isn’t how I want to remember my mom.

  27. 106 imcrystalclear

    By the way Jfrater, thanks for starting another page. I am so hooked on both sites.

  28. 107 BFXer

    First off congrats on another great website. People may be surprised to know that this still happens today. I am in the last year of medical school (in the US) and while on my OB-GYN rotation I was involved in assisting the premature delivery of twins, one of whom died shortly after birth. I then assisted one of the nurses in the process of preparing the infant body and birth and death cerficates. What is done is the body is cleaned. Plaster foot and hand molds are then made. After this the infant is dressed, posed and photographed using a disposable camera. The molds and camera are then given to the family and the pictures are developed at their discretion. The process sounds kind of macabre but in reality is quite touching. One experience I will never forget.

  29. 108 Eliza

    what I don’t get is why in every picture the mouth is closed – their muscles should be completely relaxed.

    • 109 LeeFuneralDirector

      Undertakers used to push a needle with string/wire through the gums above the top set of teeth and back out through the bottom set, pull the jaw shut and then seal the lips with a sealant. We still seal lips today.

      • 110 Brianna

        Boy would I love a chance to pick your brains….

      • 111 selise

        Lee, thanks for your input- I’ve got a great respect for the work you all do, and would like to know more- is there a good site that tells (not neccessarily shows) procedures- especially the changes historically?

  30. 112 tia long

    People take pictures of dead people all of the time, but these old ones are so compelling that I just have to look and look again. Imagine a grief with no distraction, where one day bleeds into another. Even though the survirors have passed on, I still feel for them.

  31. 113 tia long

    I think that the last picture in color is of brothers or twins where the survivor is picture with the deceased.

  32. 114 tony

    oh man #18 is the creepiest. looks like the kid is goona jump out at you!

  33. 115 karolina

    Its just amazingly sad how like half of the pictures have children either deceased or posing with some dead. Traumatizing…But the little angels look like they are in a peaceful slumber.

  34. 116 Ben

    I don’t know English equivalent but Russian – ПИЗДЕЦ!!!!!!!!

  35. 117 Cheri

    I don’t understand why some people think the practice is wrong. I find these to be a unique way to deal with a terrible situation. Death is a part of our human experience. Even children can begin to understand that. It’s sad, but it’s real.

    For myself, I wish I had a picture of a bother of mine who passed away. The days after his death were such a blur. I wish I could remember that time more.

    That’s just me, I guess.

    • 118 Brianna

      Nope it is not just you, a lot of us feel exactly the same way…

    • 119 selise

      No, you’re not the only one- as Americans we’ve so sanitized death that most people on earth wouldn’t recognize it- videos- complete with soundtracks and sparkles- not of the deceased *deceased* kinda like a movie so you can skip the grief…odd.
      I actually find momento mori quite romantic- the expression of love for someone you’ve lost, the photo of the beauty that was- especially with children/infants.
      There are exactly two things that every single person on earth has in common; birth and death. Why not have photos of them?

  36. 120 sam

    I’ve never known what a child in a coffin looks like until now. In some ways I wish I didn’t click on this page…

  37. 121 tuttut

    These pics are full of evil.

    The bodies of the dead are no longer temples of the Lord but merely hollow shells awaiting infestation by demons (not so-called bacteriumsas the smart alec scientists pretend these days).

    It has always been well known that bodies which lay unburied or unburied in holy ground are infected with disease causing demons which then escape and infect the living tissue of healthy people – this is why cremation started because diesease demons are killed by the purifying effects of holy fire.

    Burial merely hides the evil spirits and releases them when new graves are dug.

    It is no coincidence that most ghosts (evil spirits looking for a gullible human host) are seen in grave yards or where killers have hidden bodies in unconsecrated ground.

    • 122 Katherine

      i think it is interesting that you say these pictures are “full of evil” and that the bodies are “awaiting infestation by demons”. you clearly are out of your mind.

      these pictures are simply a way for those of us who don’t take pictures of our dead to understand why those in that time period would do that.

      i think these photos are beautiful and haunting all at once. i would love to see more. i understand how some people would think it is a morbid practice, but for that time period it made sense. look at #11. it was rare for that many family members to be able to get together at one time, so a picture was a way to commemorate the opportunity, not to mention to remember the one who was deceased.

    • Uhh, just what century is this? Seriously, such superstitious nonsense might have been acceptable belief several hundred years ago, but these days it’s a sign of mental illness.

    • 124 Brianna

      They are merely the remains and no more awful than a seashell.

    • 125 Tracy

      ok kilker or what ever your name is, how dare you stand in judgement of anyone who chooses to preserve a final memory.I don’t know what is wrong with you, but I’d bet it’s hard to pronounce. You can’t spell either. Go buy a dictionary, or better yet, I’ll mail you a dollar, and maybe you could buy yourself a clue. You sure do look on the sunny side of life don’t you?

      Oh alec, by the way there are ways you can block certain websites now. Get the 411 on this at your nearest personal computer. You should also consider teaching your children,if God forbid you have any, a core set of values that they can live their lives by. Take that you judgemental creep.

      Oh and what, Tut tut were you smoking, drinking or snorting when you wrote your innermost interpersonal thoughts? You do know that sherm stick is illeagal in every state . I’ll pray for you tonight, maybe.

      • 126 Gremikin

        You. Are. ADORABLE.

    • 127 Belleweather

      Holy smokes. This in a time and place where we have public libraries, free education, and mental health services for the indigent. Please get some education and some help.

  38. 128 Trish

    I have wondered about these pictures since I watched that movie The Others. Its weird to me to see the pictures of adults but the kids I can understand. I have a daughter who was stillborn and someone came to the hospital and took pics for me, but didn’t send them to me until I was ready and asked for them. Now I have one in a frame on my entertainment center. It helps a lot to have that picture because I didnt get any time with her at all and it has really helped me heal from it. The old pictures are kind of creepy though, I wouldn’t even let my then 5 year old go to the funeral, or see her. I would think it would definitely not be a good experience for a little kid.

  39. 129 Joyce

    My daughter noticed that the living people in the photos- especially the first one- are kind of fuzzy while the dead person is in sharp focus. We are guessing that is because the living are moving every so slightly while the film is exposed but the dead are not moving at all. Creepy.

    If there is a person that knows about old time photography maybe they could comment on that theory….

    • 130 gabi319

      That’s the gist of it. These memento mori are dagguerotypes and depending on the type of chemicals used and light available, it can take between 15 minutes to an hour (sometimes more in low lighting) to develop. The long exposure time tends to blur things that move even a little bit. That’s why many people (living or dead) would be strapped up to metal bracings to help maintain their posture.

      http://listverse.com/2009/01/13/top-10-incredible-early-firsts-in-photography/
      Item #3 in this list looks like a photograph of an empty street corner in Paris. In actuality, it was a busy sidewalk but the exposure time was so long that the only person to “stick” was the gentleman getting his shoes polished. He’s in the lower left corner of the image.

  40. 131 melly 21

    This is very sick. Just imagine if some necrophiliac was looking at these pictures it would give them a sick thrill.
    Even worse if it was apaedophile necrophiliac who might want to find more examples of this twisted pornography.
    The world is full of frightening and dangerous people and the internet needs tighter control to prevent such pictures being taken.
    The governments of the world should unite in tracking down the monsters who made these perverted images and the perpertrators pay dearly for their degrading and animal lust for death.

    • 132 Keori

      You know, melly, there are companies which will provide your medications to you at reduced cost so you don’t go without them for months at a time. You and tuttut might consider looking into that.

      A dear friend of mine chose to carry an anencephalic fetus to term. It died in utero at 35 weeks. When preparing for the possibility, our circle of friends, knowing how much she had wanted this pregnancy and the pain she was in, got together and arranged for an infant post-mortem photographer to prepare and photograph the body of her baby. The photographer and her assistant were so very nice, very professional, quiet and competent. After the delivery, they washed and dressed the body, put a little knit cap on the head, and took the only photos my friend would ever have of her daughter. It took a while, but eventually my friend was able to look at the photos, and the little hand and feet molds. They couldn’t even bury the body because my friend and her husband had unselfishly donated the body for scientific study into anencephaly and associated defects. Those photos and molds were the only tangible memory they would ever have of the baby they had waited and hoped for.

      For some people, memento morti are creepy and horrible. For others, they’re the only image they’ll ever have of a loved one. It’s not for us to judge others’ grief.

    • 133 Brianna

      So are you saying that all pictures of living children are also sick because a pedo may look at one and get a sick thrill? And to take it one step further, all photos if anything, humans, animals, even shoes are sick because someone somewhere may have a fetish about the particular subject?

      If you look for evil, I am sure you will find some.

    • 134 Tracy

      You know what, if you tried to be smarter, most people would try to be nicer. Where do you get off on ranting about these very seminal moments in these folks lives? Oh yeah, you can’t spell worth a tinkers damn either mr smartie britches.

    • 135 Goodgrief

      Why on earth do you people respond to trolling posts? It’s pathological. By responding, you give the poster attention, and run the risk of starting some stupid flame war, which are the two things they want. If you are so incredibly sensitive that any ridiculous comment made by some random person you don’t even know sets you off such that you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to respond to them with your counterview, then I have to agree with the English person from a bit earlier–it is childish, bossy, aggressive, unreserved, etc. behavior, just as she said. Just ignore such stuff if it is obvious troll material. For heaven’s sake!

      This is why I don’t want people able to carry a concealed weapon in this country. Some of you just don’t seem to be very stable.

  41. 136 ginmar

    It takes a pretty perverted person to overlook the actual motives behind these pictures and focus on the weirdos out there. You want them to win? I mean, I’m sure there are necrophiliacs out there, but a pedophile necrophiliac can’t be part of a really big club. And these photos are not common. Also? The people in them are dead. So….Um, you know, I think I’ll make a list of things that deserve, shall we say, more immediate concern.

  42. 137 ronda

    I am a modern day funeral director/CMT/Emblamer and certified medical examiner and I am currently re teaching my class on post mortem photography or as earlier stated memento mori. If any one has any questions regarding any of these photo’s I just might be able to help. and Leefuneraldirector is correct we still seal lips, if we cannot get hands to stay folded we often glue the fingers to together or sometimes under pre-mature circumstances we sew them together, Eye caps are places under the eye lids to make a more “natural” state known as you can see in some of these photo’s there eyes look worn/glass like/or non exsistent that is becuase back then they did not use eye caps. You can further questions or a discussion with me at Whitefangluvr050@aol.com I know a childish adress but i loved the movie to much LOL

  43. 138 Stacey

    Another thing that is sad about these photos is that even the adults who have passed away do not look particularly elderly. It’s quite a haunting reminder of the life span and mortality back in the Victorian era.

  44. 139 Ronda

    Yes, their lifespan was incredibly short back then you were lucky to make it past the age of 55 and considerd blessed if you lived to be 60 though there were people who lived to be quite old there was one confederate soldier who lived to be 116 and a union soldier who proved to be 112 at the time of death very creppy, one fact I forgot to mention was that they often painted pupils onto the eye lids when neither of what i stated could be done or the eyes were unable to support themselves or had witherd away into the skull

  45. 140 Andrea Horan

    Have you done a list of interesting, or creepy, or bizarre, or scary, or…whatever tombstones? There are a lot of really interesting ones out there!

    • 141 Elizabeth

      By the way, extremely interesting site. Heartbreaking pictures, but a good reminder of just how different our society is now. For the better, I might add.

      Makes me wish I had one of my projects I did in college. The college I went to in Ohio was quite old, as was the town with it, and both were (back then) in a fairly rural area. There was a University cemetery, for professors, donors and the like; the town cemetery, and a very old (and no longer used) cemetery for blacks and the indigent. I found out one of the first black doctors to practice in Ohio had been buried in that last cemetery, and decided to do a photo study contrasting the three cemeteries.

      I’m not an expert photographer, but I think it turned out very well. And it was heartbreaking to see the elaborate headstone of some University professor compared to the very modest sandstone one of the doctor who had probably saved far more lives than the professor ever would.

      The image I will always remember, though, is the contrast images I took of three children’s markers. All three died around the turn of the last century and all were four years old. One, in the University cemetery, was a cherub-bedecked monument to the daughter of a dean. The second, in the town cemetery, was a tidy little limestone tablet to a little girl who had been the daughter of one of the town businessmen. The third was a roughly cut block of sandstone in which the letters had been crudely etched. It was rude, and clumsy, and the letters were eroding, but you could tell someone had probably spent hours painfully trying to make this for their child because they could afford nothing better. I was never able to find out who the third child was, or who her parents were. The first two graves were both in well-kept areas. The third was back in the corner, overgrown, with some blown trash against the marker.

      After the shoot, my team partner and I cleaned her grave and got some flowers. But I’ve never forgotten that one little lonely grave, or how much our financial and social standing affects us, even in death.

  46. 142 alec

    The comment about necrophile pedophiles is a good one. These people must exist and even if one of these evil monsters could be traced stalking dead babies pix then the police and every other international law enforcement agency must be used to bring justice down HARD!

    It is no use saying that these scum are a minority club; it is only by devoting resources to hunting them down that pedophile necrophiliacs and their animal lusts for death can be prevented from infecting impressionable young minds.

    Only a few years ago, pornography was hard to obtain and expensive. Nowadays even children as young as 5 are computer literate and able to track down bestiality, coprophilia and anal homosexual acts. The likely effects of this tide of filth on their minds has yet to be known.

    How much worse if these kids are groomed to locate pix of dead children for the delight of death pimps?

    It is only by ruthlessly eradicating these vermin that we can take back control of young minds.

  47. I think the photos are touching and sad. Thank you for sharing them. Our culture is very freaked out by death…probably because of generations of having no contact with it. Back then, the body would lay in state in the family’s home until burial…sometimes for as much as weeks to allow family from far away to travel to the home and pay respects. People had time to truly “know” and experience death.

    If I were a mother and lost a child, I would want a picture to remember their beautiful face. These women during this time would lose as many as 1/3-1/2 of their children. We take for granted that if this happened today, the mother would have the photos from the birth pictures if the baby lived a while…but back then…this photo would be all you would have to remember them. Once they were in the ground, you would never see their face again.

    Also, I have a photo I believe is a Momento Mori…would like an expert opinion as it is kindof unusual. My gggg Grandmother is posed in a chair sitting outside, she wears black, hold flowers in her hand and honestly looks deceased. Gathered around is the entire family-her adult children and husband wearing black, some of the young grandchildren are posed with instruments as if they are playing music for her. Her eyes reflect back at the camera…making me think she was blind but I think the reflection was caused by coins or buttons. I would appreciate an assessment if you are interested. The photo was taken in Texas around 1897. Thanks!

  48. 144 Ronda ebeling

    Jan Oliver I would love to take a look at your photo if you could send me a picture copy of it to my email Whitefangluvr050@aol.com

  49. 145 Patti

    My great aunt had a book like this from Italy when I was a child and it was thrown away after her death, and I have been trying to find something like it since then. Are these ever sold in books as my aunt had? I was curious

  50. 146 Lori Clevenger

    my family is from deep coal country, in southwest West Virginia. with such strong Appalachian roots, i grew up with a fascination with death and superstition. still today, we take photos, and sometimes video, of funerals. i have memory books from the funerals of both my brothers, 1970 and 1982 respectively and photos of my father in his casket, taken in 2000. i dont see us abandoning this practice anytime soon.

    i remember reading that Queen Victoria was so obsessed with death that she kept a room devoted to nothing but memento mori of her friends and family.

    this was a very interesting article, presented with dignity and taste.

    • 147 Traci

      My family also still takes pictures of deceased loved ones in their caskets. I can’t say it’s something I really understand, but it’s a strong tradition and none of my older family members seem to find anything morbid about it. We are also from Appalachia. I wonder if there’s something to that – is this tradition still around in Appalachia and the southern US more so than in other places?

  51. 148 kilker

    This could be a new craze today.

    Some enterprising snapper could set up to photograph dead babies, stillbirths and young cancer victimes.

    It would be a great social document and very interesting to see pictures of dead babies from crack whores or aids victimes – these are t hings we are not allowed to see by these politically correct times.

    It would be interesting to see pictures of the dead people decomposing and rotting away too. If they could be left for flies we could maybe see how maggots affect the time it takes for rotting and turning to jelly.

    Someone start a website please.

    • 149 Suzanne

      All of that exists already. And has been in existence for a long long time.

      Look up Michael York, the actor. In an interview years ago he talked about his wife taking pictures of dead people in an artistic way. Personally I am not interested but it might be a good place for you to start.

      Youtube has a lot of memorials to deceased children if that is what you are into…

      Keep looking and I am sure you will be able to find all of that stuff.

  52. obviously you havent seen Rotten.com.

    these photos were taken for a different reason, purely for memorial and respect of the dead. of course there is probably a market for the type of thing you are proposing, but it shouldnt be confused with photos such as these.

  53. 151 CataclysmicStar

    I have two young children – 2 1/2 and 4 months. I can’t possibly imagine doing this – although I assume that if I were alive then instead that I would really have no choice. I agree entirely that as a society Americans and Europeans are completely disconnected from the concept of death and are made to fear it. I speak of myself as well, of course, in that I am terrified of dying and made uneasy by death!
    These are hauntingly beautiful pictures. Although I’ll admit that the work that NILMDTS (Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep) does is far more attractive in my opinion. Although that’s probably the death-paranoid part of me speaking. 😛

    • 152 Keshling

      You are wrong about Europeans being disconnected from death – I am in England but have Irish roots and it’s still very common for those who have died to be laid out in their home or the home of a family member, and for the funeral to leave from the home where the person has been laid out. This is what happened with my granny in Dublin. She was laid in her own room for people to go and see her and then the funeral director came and put her in her coffin and the funeral left from her home. As I said, that was in Ireland but it’s not at all uncommon in the UK.

      • 153 hannah

        You’re right, it’s not that uncommon here in Scotland either, or up north at least. When my granda died when I was 13, his body was laid out in his house before the funeral. I didn’t go into the room where he lay, because I didn’t want to see him dead, but many other people did. I believe it’s also very common in the more Catholic countries in continental Europe – Spain and Italy especially, and possibly places in central and Eastern Europe that I know less about. We are becoming more disconnected from death in the UK (possibly as a result of contemporary American influence), but wakes and laying out of the corpse still happen. Death is where every single person on this earth is headed, with no exceptions, and while it can be uncomfortable to confront our own mortality I think it’s really important that we accept death as part of life.

  54. 154 Atonsgirl

    I lost my 18 year old Son in June 2009 in a motorcycle accident, I took pictures of him at the funeral home the day after, it was just his handsome face showing, I had to see him before they dressed him up and put makeup all over him, I also had his funeral photograhed and video taped, He is the love of my life, My baby, I know people say “why would you want to remember him that way?” Well, Thats the way he was, that was the last time I was ever going to see him, touch him, rub his hair… It was horrific, but I am so happy that I had the pictures taken, I dont sit here and stare at them, I have them in an envelope attached to a book that I write in every day to him… I am still in disbelief that he is really gone. I asked that when I pass they take my book and pictures and cremate them with me, these are my private thoughts and agony written down, For now the pictures are my reality.

    I love you Joey, never out of my thoughts or my heart

    • 155 Tracy

      I am so very sorry for your great loss, to love and nurture a child for so long, and then suddenly, they’re no longer alive. It’s a slap in the face to the natural order of things. Mothers and Fathers should never have to bury a child. I buried my baby boy 18 years ago last week. I did not think I would survive. But, let me assure you, he is always alive in your heart and mind.You cannot destroy love, it’s a dynamic force of the human soul that can only be transformed, the life energy moves on, and we have to find our way out of the sadness, each in our own way, and in our own time. I pray that you will find serenity again, a peace that only a parent who has ever had to say goodbye, for now. In His grip. Tracy

  55. 156 Tracy

    If you look at the ninth photo as you scroll down, it seems to me that this is not a dead baby. There is no distortion of the features, no pooling of blood that occurs when you die, there is no sign at all that he,or she is just a healthy looking little baby that is just asleep.How unusual as well that the baby is not clothed. I’ve got the baby on the blanket, just wearing a smile photos, done in good taste, so we can embarass her future mate. (Sweet revenge for 36 hours of hard labor) If anyone has a comment on my interpretation of this photo, please respond.

  56. 157 Tracy

    ok kilker or what ever your name is, how dare you stand in judgement of anyone who chooses to preserve a final memory.I don’t know what is wrong with you, but I’d bet it’s hard to pronounce. You can’t spell either. Go buy a dictionary, or better yet, I’ll mail you a dollar, and maybe you could buy yourself a clue. You sure do look on the sunny side of life don’t you?

  57. 158 Ronda ebeling

    Actually the ninth child down as you can see is actually not alive, the child dosen’t show any blood pooling but please remember that blood pooling dosen’t always occur and dosen’t always show especially if the young child had been enbalmed (I.E. drained blood, restoration done) These photo’s are amazingly beatiful and as a funeral director I have respect for what they do.

  58. 159 Tracy Ryan

    Gosh, I appreciate your response, but I sure hope he was just sleeping. When my three day old son died 18 years ago, they dressed him, cleaned him and handed his still warm body to my ex husband and myself. He was so beautiful. He had a smile on his precious little face and I like to think that after a hellish 3 day fight to stay in this world, he found peace and joy in the next. I have no pictures of him dressed for his memorial service, I didn’t want that to be my last earthly memory of him, I have never been able to watch the home videos of him alive for some reason. ( my two beautiful daughters call our home videos, “the me show”. ) Children , my mom has always told me are not really ours, but that they are entrusted by God for us to care for and nurture. I still wonder even now, what would he have looked like, would he be like me, tall, or like his daddy, serious. But I rest in the knowledge that he is in the most tender and loving arms that could ever be. He’s my angel, and if I play my cards right,
    we will see him again. In His grip. Tracy

  59. 160 Lea

    Hello. I have recently come across possibily misidentified post mortem photos that all featured peope with their eyes open, some of them standing near the other family members…could these be authentic? Of the small basketful, I purchased only one of young female twins…I could supply an electronic copy of the photo. Thank you

    • 161 kfw01

      I read somewhere that sometimes the eyes were propped open or had pupils drawn on the closed eyelids at some point during development. Maybe that is what has been done to your photos.

  60. 162 Dave

    Having lost twin girls in the early 90s (preterm rupture – 7 months), we definitely took photos of our departed girls dressed in little doll clothes! Our first daughter was DOA, our second daughter was alive and struggled so hard with her little tiny legs and arms while the nurse crimped her umbilical cord and waited til she went limp… I was within arms reach of her… helpless, stunned, blood.. controlling such an intense desire to knock the nurses head off and save my daughter… I do wonder what thoughts the nurse was having…
    Life is quite awesome of course, all life, and right now you are alive so enjoy your day.
    As I ramble…, with today’s technology we should have hologram captures instead of photos, uh oh, hologram images – video games – co-partner with a departed family member within a video game? I’m thinking I’ll have to ponder on that idea for a bit!

    • 163 Tracy

      Dave, I want to tell you that first of all, you still are the parent of twins. I know you’ve probablly read my post(s) and usually I only reply to people (?) who are using this site as a platform to spread their manifesto of stupidity. I am so very sorry for your loss. I was at 27 weeks when my twins decided to move to a place where they could stretch out. My beautiful daughter (now 18) weighed in at a whopping 2.5 pounds. My precious baby boy, despite a valiant fight, passed away at 3 days old.
      My wish for you is this: that you will remember these tiny hearts with a smile, and that time, and I know this is so cliche, will help you and your partner to heal. My thoughts and prayer are with you, for a wonderful, blessed holiday season. In His grip, Tracy

  61. 164 Lea

    Per my last post, to clarify, the photo is clearly from the Victorian era and marked with “Patten & Stratton 47 Hanover Street, Boston, Mass”. I couldn’t find anything relating to this business and am guessing photograpers did not specialize in this area or did they?

  62. 165 Garlene

    Pictures #2 and #18 are kind of creepy looking.

  63. 166 Beth

    You have to remember that death was a big part of life back then. My grandparents and great grandparents were of huge families and all had lost multiple siblings. We do not think of death the way they did. I have been so blessed to have only lost one grandmother that I was very close too. I thank the Lord everyday for this. In that time period, you saw many family members die. Death is hidden more today because life is longer. Advances in medical have made it wonderful. Thank you Lord for blessing me and giving me a wonderful family and kids who are healthy. Ive been blessed to spend so much time with my grandparents, great grandparents and my great great grandmother who lived to be 102. She was born in 1886 and died when I was 4, I spent alot of time at the nursing home with her, and remember it well!!

  64. creepy and fascinating =) love it

  65. Very interesting.

  66. 169 ackstay

    These are quite amazing. Love the one with the baby and the mirror or water. It is lovely though sad. So many children… Life was so different

  67. Creepy! But cool! Thanks for sharing this.

  68. 171 Kitty

    This may sound silly, but in picture #26 is it just the baby who’s died, or has the lady as well?

    I think these images are beautiful. I wish this practice was more common nowadays- the circle of life encompasses both birth and death and it seems so strange that we skip over death so much. Thank you for sharing these images.

  69. 172 Ren

    So who is the dead one on the first picture?

    • 173 LauraM.

      The girl in the chair is dead.Noticed hoe clear she is in the image in contrast to her parent?(I think they’re her parents)

  70. 174 lissamay

    I find these photos to be morbidly beautiful…there is something about them..they capture an essence that only death can capture. These photos remind me of going to pay respects at a wake for a person that you don’t really know. You go up to the open casket and look at the person, possibly for the first time in your life…and suddenly death isn’t so uncommon, even outside of your personal life. Yes, most of us hear about it, we see it in the news, we’ve even been to funerals for loved ones. But to look at a stranger, not knowing who they really were….that’s different.

    I kind of like these photos. Every aspect of life is worth celebrating, even the end of life.

  71. 175 Kylie

    I think if we take these photographs into context they a beautiful reminders of family and friends, for those who had them taken. We are lucky today having the ability in most cases to have many photos and often video images of our parents children and friends. These are beautiful in a gentle loving way. To do this kind of thing now in our day and age would be something I’d have objections to.

  72. 176 HiddenHeretic

    Does anybody happen to know the source of photo #21? I was shocked to stumble across this site accidentally, and I believe the man and woman in picture 21 are my great-great grandparents! I have a family portrait of all of them together, and I could swear that its them. Any information would be greatly appreciated! Email: tpowell389@hotmail.com

  73. Photography was expensive back them, so I guess either they loved their dearly departed ones very much to have their photos taken, or was it just a social norm or a statement of their economic richness?

  74. 178 Janet

    I worked for a number of years in a community hospital in the marketing/public relations department. As the secretary, I had to open all the mail for our department. I remember being especially moved by the letters/literature we’d get from time to time from the organization who photographed dead newborns. We never used these photographers, but I personally thought it was a wonderful service.

    I read many comments included in their literature about how the parents were so glad they took the time to have this done. This special photo would be the only one they would ever have of a much loved child. The photos provided as examples in their literature were were beautiful. I’d cry a little every time I’d get one of their letters. This kind of mail was considered “junk mail” and I really wasn’t supposed to waste time reading it, but I always read these. If I were ever to lose a baby this way, I know I would treasure such a photo.

    I sew and have often thought I’d like to make burial gowns for babies as a way of helping these parents. This article reminded me of that idea, so perhaps I will contact the photo organization, or some hospitals or funeral homes in the area.

    I took my camera to my uncle’s funeral recently and took a lot of pictures to record the memory of this bittersweet time. There were so many people at his funeral. I got some good shots of friends and family members interacting with each other. During the service I went up to the balcony and took pictures looking down on the crowded sanctuary, celebrating this wonderful man’s life. I also took a picture of his daughter-in-law holding one of the little kids, looking at him in the open casket. I didn’t capture my uncle’s face, but you can see his hands in the photo. His funeral was in December, and I have yet to go through all those pictures, do some cropping and tweaking, and share them with family members.

    There is a picture (that’s only in my mind) of the three remaining brothers standing together looking down at my uncle during calling hours at the funeral home. The oldest living sibling, out of 11, is now my dad. I wish I would have taken a picture of that scene. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

    I think there are tasteful ways to take pictures of the dead and I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    • 179 Elizabeth

      Janet, there is an organization called Threads of Love (threadsoflove.org) which does exactly that – make clothing items to donate to parents of preterm children. Groups partner with hospitals that have NICUs. Some of the items are for living children – soft, warm crocheted and knit hats, for example, which are nearly impossible to find for tiny preemies, and tiny blanket dolls which mothers and babies can share when the mother cannot yet hold the child (the scent of the mother comforts the child and the scent of the child helps the mother lactate).

      However, Threads of Love also makes clothes for children who were born dead or who died in the NICU. Many families want to bury their children in something pretty, but either don’t have the resources or just cannot find any clothes which are suitable. I know I had to order my daughter’s coming-home dress online, along with her first infant clothes, because the local stores had nothing suitable for a 3 pounder, and doll clothes were neither comfortable enough nor constructed appropriately for the NICU.

      I’d check into the group and see which group you might be able to get with locally. As the recipient of hat and blanket doll donations (though my darling girl *did* live), I can tell you that your gifts would be deeply appreciated.

  75. 180 Romina

    Personaly, I don’t find these pictures creepy, I feel sorry for the people who had to take them. Imagine,for example, that you have a brother and you think he’ll be here for a long time, but he gets ill and dies, and only after he dies you get to take a picture of him, to remember him. I guess it is nice, even if he’s dead in that picture and you know it.

  76. 181 nancyroman

    I think they are all creepy if you ask me. Especially the one with the three women (possibly sisters). I don’t know which one was dead, maybe all three!!!

  77. 182 Gravedigger

    These photos were fascinating and horroristic. It was very intresting to see the curious traditions of the past.

    Here is an other website with sich content. (This is in Hungarian but, you can see the pictures without reading the text.)

    http://extrem.puruttya.hu/

    • 183 Belleweather

      It’s not the same kind of content. You need psychiatric help.

    • 184 Lori Clevenger

      good God. whats wrong with you? dont click on that link people. noone needs to see that.

    • 185 Cristina

      Gravedigger, if you think that website has anything to do with this one, you need serious help!

    • 186 Jan

      Sorry, not the same content….. real, but disgusting. How very sad.

    • 187 sam j

      this is nothing like like the pictures shown above. these pictures are for the memory of a loved one. the pictures you have derected us too are the most desterbing thing iv’e seen. your sick

  78. 188 Doug

    I agree with some of the above statements in regards to why the children in the photos seem so behaved as compared to today’s society, especially Cristina’s post #24. My step-daughter tried to fight her mother once, and her mother slapped her, then called the police. They took the side of the daughter and brought in social services, now she thinks we should still support her, though she is 23, married and has a kid (we don’t). Generation Y as they are now called is definitely the “Gimmie generation”. While the pictures seem creepy, the also serve to remind us how different life, and society were back then. Death was common place, and so was discipline of the child. My parents were strict, and I was taught to respect others and their property, if I didn’t I was disciplined. Should a child be beaten with an extension cord or coat hanger, no. However, busting their butts with a switch should be allowed. If kids learn there are consequences to thier actions, then they grow up to be responsible adults.

  79. 189 425 love god

    thes phathos rell tell us how vablev life relly is and how much god loves us so we dont end up like this so nomatter what u have done god still loves u so plase dont take life for greanted

  80. 190 Jap

    I live in SE Asia. In my culture, it’s part of the funeral to do a memento mori. Everyone do it here. But not in the fashion where you actually dressed the corpse so it seems like they’re sleeping. When someone died, what will happen is family or someone assigned to will bathe the corpse, then put on the burial clothes, and inject some formaline formaldehyde to preserve to body (they don’t bury the deceased until about 2-3 days later, to give time to friends and family to pay their respects, say goodbye, whatever), then put into coffin, then being put on some makeup. Now, sometimes during the procedure, family and relatives are allowed to take photographs. They always do. Then before the coffin is closed (usually at the end of day 1), all the family or close relative will gather around the coffin, just like photo number 11 in this page (but of course they don’t stand the coffin up like that, just normal, on its stand and all), and take pictures from several angles. A close up of the corpse will also be taken.
    If you live here, memento mori is a lifestyle. Nothing to feel creepy about 🙂

  81. Sorry, but I can’t agree with you. I do not like that approach. But it’s a great start. Maybe with some increased information’s I may manage to fully grasp it superior?

  82. 192 Susan

    How did this become all about “rotten kids” & off the original subject…Focus People…. just kidding..

  83. My grandmother is 86 and is failing. I am a photographer and have taken many pictures of her with family members over the last year. U can see some within my gallery at http://chrissylong.redbubble.com but I found the term ‘memento mori’ and then found this blog. How eye opening. I think it’s actually beautiful that the people who commissoned the photos actually did the photos becuase IMHO, they wanted ‘last photos’ with their family members. To remember them as they were at the last part of their lives. The textures, framing, and basic aspects of daguerreotype are beautiful. This is devotion and longing here. these folks were wanting to remember their loved ones, even in death. I suppose death was not as ‘scary’ as it is to us. Us, with our longer lives, us who think it’s creepy. It’s natural, it’s inevitable and we’ll all be there someday. I hope my family wants one last picture with me!

  84. 194 Morgada

    I find this obsession with death weird. Those photos are far more repelling than any of those depicting sky burials

    • 195 Heather

      Seriously, people. So many stupid comments on this subject. Will people ever start thinking before they post?
      If you don’t understand the “obsession”, why the hell did you visit the website? Just because one isn’t afraid of death doesn’t mean they are obsessed. Having a curiosity about a world beyond ours is natural. If you can’t face death, you aren’t facing the truth.

  85. 196 port

    Jeez, learn to take a joke people.

  86. 197 Dianasvoice

    the youngest children posing seem to be in the 9th photo down. VERY young and would seem not really possible to be able to hold a pose for an extended period. But I do not believe that photo is from the victorian era. Their clothing and the quality of the photo suggest some time in the 20th century which would mean a totaly different type of photography. No more extended exposer. That photo is just off from fromt he others and Memento Mori was still in practice in many places in the early 20th century.

  87. 198 webo

    I found one of these such pictures among my grandmothers belongings after her death. I was only about 13 at the time so I left it in her now fallen down house. I kinda wish I would have held onto it now.

  88. 199 Kit

    I dont find these photos disturbing at all.I guess thats why I found this wesite.I always found death fascinating,I am not sure why.My father committed suicide when I was 16.I found him.Ever since then I do have a strange fascination with looking at these old death photos,maybe because I never had closure with his death.I just dont know.But I did not go to the funeral to say my last goodbye.I think they had me on sedatives because I was just in shock.I can see why people do take photos.For a last chance at seeing your loved one.My last image of him is just horrible,and this was 30 years ago.My point is some people just cant make it to the funeral home so maybe pictures are not a bad idea.

  89. 200 Kit

    I really want to see the website Gravedigger posted but am a little scared,has anyone else seen it?

    • 201 Brianna

      I had my boyfriend look at it. He says it has gore pictures and other gross stuff. Dead animals, dead people, people doing gross things…..nothing special just gross.

  90. 202 Kit

    Thank you Brianna,Im not going there.

  91. These pictures absolutely break my heart(particularly the child pictures)I suppose I shouldn´t be watching them while being 9 months pregnant and overly emotional.You can imagine that this was the only way people back then could remember their loved ones,many had no opportunity to have their pictures taken while they were still alive.
    I don´t find them crepy at all,just very beautiful and peaceful.Sad and full of grief but beautiful.You can imagine these people were loved.

  92. 204 shae

    I dont think those pics are creepy at all. I have pics of my stillborn son. Those are all I have to remember him by.

  93. 205 claire

    it’s just something not really in our culture any more. it does seem creepy or pointless now, but at the time obviously photography was nowhere close to the availability it is today.

    i agree that 4th from the bottom one is creepy though but some of the pictures are beautiful.

  94. 206 Lonny

    Wow! The fact that roughly 97% of this site isn’t even pics – its almost all COMMENTS makes me realize how fascinated we all STILL are with this lost art form.

    Honestly, though, I’m not sure how much art appreciation is going on versus the terrible voyeuristic intrusion these pictures allow us into the homes and lives of people we’ve never met and will never know. Twisted voyeurism in its most base form.

  95. 207 Kira

    omg its so sad to see all the dead babies and children.

  96. What a beautiful selection of images – I’m fascinated by Memento Mori and find it both sad, beautiful and respectful all at the same time. I’m not sure it’s so far removed from where we are now, I would say there are similarities to the open casket tradition at funerals.

    Thanks for the post.

    Cheers

    Tam

  97. 209 Jessica Thurber

    One of our children passed away a few days after she was born after being delivered three months premature. We took pictures of her after she passed away with a Teddy bear so that we had some way to remember her and to see her sweet face when ever we wanted. I think it is truly loving thing to want to have something to remind you of the ones you love that are no longer with you. We now will be able to show our younger daughter what her sister looked like and to use it as a teaching tool to explain about heaven and that we will be with her again some day.

  98. 210 Juri

    How sad; especially the dead children.

    • 211 Jorge

      I was thinking the same…

  99. 212 julie

    the 6th photo where the kid looks like he’s sleeping is rather.. beautiful in its own way…

    number #22… the young woman… that’s also very pretty.

    i never thought i’d say that dead people are beautiful….

    (I was scanning the comments… how old are some of you people? 5? )

  100. 213 Ash

    They are positively macabre but i honestly say that mainly due to the style of the shots (the black and white/placing the subjects in unusual poses/propping open eyelids and such). Death is natural but propping open eyelids, etc, after life has gone from the body, is really not. But i agree, our Western societies are really removed from death now, maybe if we weren’t so much, we would find it slightly easier to deal with. Just maybe.

  101. 214 Katie

    I find this very interesting and have a sort of morbid curiosity about the images. Why did they take them to begin with and why are they outside of the social norm now when just over a hundred years ago, they were rather prevalent. I’m actually doing a research paper for a literature class on how Victorians dealt with death and more specifically the death of children. I was wondering if anyone might be able to point me in the direction of any further information on the subject?

  102. 215 Ken

    @ Katie: During the Victorian era, as of which is when most, if not all of these photos were taken, photography was still very new and it was very expensive to have your photograph taken, as the equipment, and photo papers etc were very costly to the proffesional photographer taking the picture. As for many of the live people in these pics, it is very likely that this would have been the only time in their life to have their picture taken. Also, here’s a really creepy fact, in addition to propping the bodies up into poses to make them look more alive, they also would sometimes hold the eyes open by inserting pins through the eyelids and into the head, as is demonstrated in photo #18 above. I have in the past found some rather large galleries of momento mori photographs online in which some of the pics were group photos, and as they had used the “pin method” on the eyes, the only way to tell which one was the dead body was to notice that only one person was not a bit blurry in the photograph, due to the long exposure times, everybody would have slight movements except for the guest of honor. Heres a link that I hope helps on your research. http://listverse.com/2009/08/29/top-10-creepy-aspects-of-victorian-life/

  103. 216 Andrea

    It’s soo sad to see the photos of the little children with their sibling that has passed. Almost like they’ve had too much to deal with, and too much death to see for their little lives. They look so confused and hopeless….

  104. 217 May

    My sister lived far away and didn’t get home in time to see my father after his heart attack and before he died. She would have liked to be with him when he died. She appreciated being able to see the photos I took of his body in his hospital bed shortly after his death. It helped her grieve, and to accept his passing. I haven’t shown them to anyone else, and they only exist on my computer.

    We live in a death-denying society, and that is not healthy. It’s hard enough to believe that someone close to you has gone, even months and years later. The more one can be REAL with the fact of death, the easier it is to get through the grieving process and get on with your life. Our commercial culture has separated us from the raw physical reality of it, but it was not so with our ancestors. They (depending on their customs and religion) would cleanse and dress the body, sit with it in their living rooms, carry it to the grave and fill in the hole. Most peoples in the world probably still do something like that. It really helps you deal with reality, and to move through the grief to the other side in your own life. And that goes for children as well as adults.

  105. 218 kate

    *Chills* The ones with the children standing in the caskets are very depressing, and quite honestly i feel like i could remember there faces anywhere.. Uuuueee lol

  106. 219 CeCe

    These are fascinating, if not a bit macabre. I wonder if there are some of these hidden somewhere in the piles of old pictures that belong to my family. I’d love to see more examples.

  107. 220 Rebecc

    A few day’s ago, some one told me about memento mori/PM photograph’s of the Victorian age.
    I started to search on the internet and found lots of these picture’s, some are sad, some are beautyfull, some of them are creepy, and some off them are telling a story just by the way the are made(people, setting, dressing etc) but all of them are very interesting.
    When i see a picture…i would like to know, who was this person, how did they died.

    But i’am wundering, are there only PM photograph’s from a few countrie’s (like it was normal in a few countrie’s or is it worldwide?), because i’am curious to find picture’s from the Netherlands in this age.

    When you look close the most photo’s you see how much work the did on the one that was past away and that it didn’t make’s a difference if they are old, young or just born, you just see how much they loved that person and would like to gave him the best for the last time.

    The picture’s of the young children and baby’s make me feel sad, espacially the one’s that are made with their brothers and sisters.

    At all time I think it is a sort of art, especially when you think how they did this at that century, nowaday’s we have all kind of stuff(like photoshopping with your PC), cooling systems, special make-up and preparing stuff.
    As you can see at that time there was all ready some kind of photoshopping, the colouring, and at other pictures you see that they cut out the head from a person when he was living, and paste it on a picture from that same person that is dead at that time, so the have a “nice’ picture of them being dead.
    And what i also found was a picture of a living child that was placed in a setting with his toy’s, his face was replaced by another one, this was from a dead child, because the father would like to have a picture from his deciesed child in that didn’t look dead.

    I find this all very fascinating, and will keep on looking for more of this type of pictures.

  108. Really creepy but fascinating 🙂

  109. Both frightening and fascinating.

  110. 223 Ariadne

    I would like to congratulate you for this presentation of such an original, sad and so human theme. Also would like to add that recently this year, at Cannes Festival, the brilliant Portuguese 101th. years old (!) director Manoel de Oliveira presented his last film, whose history develops from a “memento moris” fact. The plot: a photograph is called urgently in the night to take a photo of a very beautiful young woman that was to be married soon, but suddenly died. This film was presented to 1070 critics on a parallel presentation, off competition, causing the best impressions. It’s named “The strange case of Angelica”. Unfortunately the link I have is written in Portuguese, but I will try to send the photo (“memento mori”) the protagonist had taken of Angelica, showed on the Internet news about the Festival.

  111. 224 Ariadne

    I had found on IMDB some photographs from the film and, among them, that one that follows the tradition of “memento moris”:
    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm50233856/tt1282153

  112. 225 Kira Black

    My god, i feel so sorry for thsoe families who lost their babies. Although the picture with the baby beside water looks quite good.

  113. 226 Flurgon

    It’s so very sad to see these. The Victorians were obsessed with the idea of death and the supernatural. But as I said, it’s so sad as these are probably some of the only photographs the families had of their loved ones. Not like now where cameras are cheap and built in to everything! 😦 Just makes us think how lucky we are today with higher life expectancy and hardly any infant mortality rates.

  114. 227 alice

    So sad 😦 So many babies and children.

  115. 228 alice

    the forth from the bottom looks familiar…

  116. 229 Miranda

    I have a similar picture of my daughter born full term stillborn. I found these images beautiful and poignant in the fact that in their historicity the loved ones were able to retain an image. Nowadays photos are so easy. For those who did not have it as an obvious luxury in life, they chose to comfort themselves in death. Dignified and so human.

  117. 230 Joan

    This type of post-mortem photography is enjoying (?) a resurgency, of sorts, via youtube. Simply witness the massive amount of RIP videos memorializing infants, stillborn and otherwise. Unfortunately these videos are, almost without fail, accompanied by some maudlin Contemporary Christian sappy tune, or that insufferable “Angel” song by Sarah McLachlan. Other than that, some are actually touching and done well.

  118. 231 Amy

    My 2 year old daughter is napping upstairs right now and I have almost overwhelming urge to run up and hug the crap out of her! These pictures are so sad, I’m actually crying right now 😦 Coffins shouldn’t come in that size.

    • 232 Scottman

      No doubt. I’ll hug my little girl tomorrow.

  119. 233 Nillie

    jfrater: Thank you for posting these pictures. At first glance they do seem creepy, but having lost two babies of my own (one fourteen years ago during 22nd week of pregnancy & the second four years ago during my 8th week of pregnancy), I wish I had been able to take a picture of them. (Especially since I have no children to call my own.) Instead I am left with nothing more than my sadness to remember them by. No one has the right to dictate how someone should grieve. Until you have had a loved one taken away, you cannot know what it feels like or what you go through when you grieve.

  120. 234 number4

    ..need to refresh my brain ….must watch cartoons…..
    BWT…great site ….great info.

  121. 235 Yazzie

    I hate to see so many babies and children in these photos. I can imagine picking up and comforting any one of them simply because they look so alive still. My heart breaks for the families even though this happened centuries ago and I can’t extend my condolences. I’ll just keep it in mind for any time someone tells me they had a miscarriage or lost a baby. I’ll know a fraction of how devastating that must feel.

  122. 236 Lee-GH

    I have been fascinated with Memento Mori for years. It was common for portraits to be taken with the close to dying as well as with the dead, I wonder if the 1st family portrait is one of those. This is not a lost art, there are services offered here in Aus now to the families of still born children that if they wish they can have photos taken with their little bub. I noticed Nillie’s post, I’m so sorry for your losses & I wish this could have been available to you xx

  123. 237 eyjhey villas

    wow. amaizing. in philippines, people are kinda superstitious about memento moris… they dont wanna take a picture of the dead for they believe it will haunt them forever… I am a filipina but im not at all superstitious.
    in fact…
    i find this pictures hauntingly sweet.
    i hope i get to stumble upon other memento mori images on the net…
    love it. love it.

  124. 238 Lauren

    The 10th pic made me very sad. The two siblings of the little angel looked like they were crying looking at their baby sibling.

  125. 239 chelle leigh

    Some of my family still takes pictures of family in their caskets.My oldest sister has mom’s pictures in her family album.I’ve never questioned why,it’s just the way it is done.

  126. 240 Scottman

    All I know is this is the craziest sh*t I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ll have nightmares for days! Did they really prop the dead up and make them look alive? You’ve gotta be kidding me! I can’t imagine my mom telling me to stand there next to my dead broher while I take a picture. I’ll sleep with the light on forever!

  127. 241 Jessica Lynn Hepner

    The 17 th picture from the top of the little boy in the brown chair do you have an info on who the boy was or who his family is?


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