Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Just Received - Part III - Mourning Rituals
Whew! Just one more notice of a book I recently received. I've been wanting to do a "Medical Department" column for The Civil War News in which I discuss burial and mourning rituals of the era. Happily, Bernadette Atkins - a Gettysburg resident who is an expert in the subject - kindly sent me a copy of her self-published booklet Widow's Weeds and Weeping Veils: Mourning Rituals in 19th Century America (the booklet is available in historic cemetery book shops and visitors centers).
To "compliment" my interview with Bernadette, I am also going to visit the National Museum of Funeral History, which just happens to be in Houston, Texas, and just a few miles away from my home.
Bernadette's booklet is slim at less than 40 pages, but is packed with information on period customs for wakes and funerals, cemeteries, undertakers, caskets, the "Art of Dying," post-mortem photography, spiritualism and philosophies of the afterlife, mourning art, clothing, jewelry, and etiquette, and funeral food (including recipes for "funeral pie" and "funeral biscuits). The booklet includes a nice biography to prompt further reading. It also includes more than eighty illustrations, including photographs of many period mourning items from her own collection.
Look for an interview with Bernadette soon in The Civil War News and on this blog!