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21 Victorian Era ‘Death Photographs’ That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones

Human society has come a very long way since the Victorian Era. In addition to nearly eradicating polio, we have seemingly grown to respect the dead enough not to dress them up and take pictures of them. But this wasn’t always the case. The practice of “post-mortem photography” (that is, photographing the dead) is exactly what it sounds like.

By today’s standards, this is would be pretty taboo, but at the time it was seen as quite normal.

Though the practice has declined in popularity over the years, there is still plenty of evidence left to examine. Here are 21 of the most unsettling examples of Victorian post-mortem photography we could find.

1. They would sometimes make it look like the deceased was sleeping.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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2. At the time, the photography process was slow and you could not move while the photo was being taken.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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3. In this case below, they positioned the man’s arm in order to support the head.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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4. They would use props such as curtains so that someone could hide to hold the head up.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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5. They appeared to actually look alive.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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6. They were meant to serve as mementos of the deceased loved one.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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7. I could only imagine how hard this was for families.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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8. There is something about the eyes.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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9. The pain in the parent’s faces show how hard it must have been.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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10. It was common for the subjects to be made to “look-alive.”

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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11. They had to remain very still. Here is an example of what happens when people moved. The parents did and they are blurry as a result

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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12. In this photograph the girl on the far left is being supported by a hidden structure.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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13. This little girl is sitting sideways on the chair so that the device propping her up is hidden.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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14. This girl is sitting in someone’s lap.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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15. Photographers employed a variety of tricks to make their subjects look more life-like.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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16. Like posing this girl with her toys.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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17. It was common for family members pose with their dead loved ones for these photographs.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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18. One of the most common ways they did this was posing people with their favorite things (like this man in a chair with his dogs).

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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19. Other times it wasn’t possible to make their subjects look alive

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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20. This is so creepy.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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21. In this photograph, the girl standing in the middle is the deceased. The photographer attempted to make her look more alive by drawing on her pupils.

21 Victorian Era 'Death Photographs' That Were Used To To Serve As Mementos Of Dead Loved Ones
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There might still be a lot of bad stuff out there but at least we’re not drawing eyes on it to make it look better for photographs. Can you believe people actually did this?

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