Our Enduring Preoccupation with Premature Burial 

  Hours before he died, George Washington told his secretary: “Have me decently buried; and do not let my body be put into the Vault in less than three days after I am dead.” This kind of request was not uncommon. In an era when putrefaction was the only sure sign of death, many people […]

The Double Casket of Thomas & Mary Souder

I remember rummaging through an old trunk in my grandmother’s house when I was a child and coming across what seemed to me at the time a very unusual photograph. It was a monochromatic image of a beautiful, young woman lying in a white casket (not dissimilar to the photo on the left). Curious, I […]

Buried Alive: 19th-Century Safety Coffins

In 1822, Dr Adolf Gutsmuth set out to conquer his fear of being buried alive by consigning himself to the grave in a ‘safety coffin’ that he had designed himself. For several hours, he remained underground, during which time he consumed a meal of soup, sausages and beer—all delivered to him through a convenient feeding […]