Victorian Post Mortem Photography

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Identification of a person at a postmortem stage through photography is a common practice in the forensic science and policing fields.
This practice of photographing deceased people started not as a form of judicial evidence but as a permanent keepsake of those who the family had lost.
During the Victorian and early Edwardian times the mortality rate was much higher than today especially that of infants, children and pregnant women. This lead to it being common practice to have those who had passed away photographed either alone or with fellow family members.
Postmortem photography was especially important when infants and young children were concerned as no pictures may have been taken before the death.
In most postmortem photographs the deceased is lying on a bed most even surrounded by flowers and appear to be asleep or be set up like the young girl in the picture. This young girl is held up by a post that comes up from a solid base, with clamps to hold her at the neck and waist and also holds he clothing out. Her arms also have stiff wires to keep them in a wanted place and eyes are painted on closed eyelids to make it look more realistic and hide the start of eye decomposition.

At first it was only those who were well off that were able to afford the luxury of photographs due to the immense cost to do so. As the price of photography decreased the popularity of postmortem photography increased.
Although not as popular today postmortem photos of new born babies and their parents are used as part of the grieving process by some.

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Sources:


Picture Source:
http://www.petroliaheritage.com/people.html