Learn about Victorian death practices at Elkhart County Historical Museum

Elkhart County Historical Museum

BRISTOL, Ind. - Outreach Curator at the Ruthmere Campus Andrea Hustler will give a talk, titled " Post-Mortem Photography and the Victorian Culture of Death," at the Elkhart County Historical Museum on Friday, June 14, at 11 a.m.

Museum officials say the program is free and will discuss this unique and fascinating aspect of Victorian life.

Space is limited and registration is required.

The museum's program site reads, "In the 19th century, death was far less taboo than it is today. The Victorians were professional mourners who openly embraced the harsh realities of death through unique cultural practices; one such practice was post-mortem photography, or the practice of photographing the recently deceased. The program will delve into the process and history behind post-mortem photography, how to spot a post-mortem photograph, and other ways the Victorians honored the dead."

This somewhat morbid program coincides with the exhibit, "Clues Through the Lens," which features the museum’s image collection.

Hutslar said, “In order to understand and appreciate the way that our culture perceives and handles death today, I find that it is important to place it within a greater historical context. We did not learn the science of deathcare overnight; it was a messy, centuries-long process. We were not always a society able and willing to quietly sweep death under the rug when it becomes too painful; there was a time that it was impossible to ignore. Our predecessors had practices - such as post-mortem photography - that to us, are gruesome. To them, it was a deeply emotional, crucial means of honoring life.”

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