Saturday, March 9, 2013

Interesting Clippings #11: Remember Your Deceased

The Pittsburgh Press, December 9, 1913.
While I was looking for an obituary in the Pittsburgh Press of my 2nd great grandmother, the one who died of acute alcoholism, I spotted an interested ad beneath the list of death notices in which a photographer was advertising his services to photograph the deceased or floral offerings. It may seem morbid and wildly inappropriate to take a photo of a corpse to us but in history, post-mortem photography was acceptable to society when often, it may be the only photograph of a loved one the family might have. It's popularity decreased in the 20th century with the introduction of "snapshot" cameras like the Kodak Brownie in 1900 which made photography easy and affordable to the masses. So I was a little surprised to see this advertised in 1913 but Wikipedia assures me that formal memorial pictures were still being produced into the 20th century.

On another note, I feel like the genealogy gods are against me today. My 2nd great grandmother Anna Jane (Russell) Bauer died December 7, 1913 in Pittsburgh and I was hoping to find an obituary in the Pittsburgh Press from December 8th or 9th (hence how I found today's interesting clipping), but probably more likely the 8th. Frustratingly, the paper for December 8th and only December 8th, of all days, is missing! The 9th has no obituary for her. I even checked the 10th but by then, there don't seem to be any listings going back as far as the 7th. I actually didn't have high hopes for finding an obituary for Anna, simply because I'm pretty confident she was disowned by her family and died alone. They did not even pay for her to have a headstone. But I thought maybe even the lack of an obituary would give me more insight into just how strongly her family felt about their detachment from her. However, I can't even confirm that there was no obituary since the one paper I need to see is missing!


  1. Maybe a local paper around the area picked up the obiturary. A lot of smaller towns printed obituaries over the wire service. I have been photographing obits from 1890-1922 for a blog and I have found obituaries from four states in one newspaper. I know not all of them are picked up but maybe some. My family took snapshots of all the family members in the casket. The only picture that I am certain of my sister that died before I was born is a casket picture. I always found it so morbid, but I have saved the pics.