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Sleeping Beauty

March 2023
1min read

John Updike’s article states that “during the 1920s formal post-mortem photography disappeared in mainstream middle-class America.” I am concerned that this might be painful to people who find such photographs to be an essential part of their grieving.

The practice of post-mortem photography remains so commonplace that a pamphlet has been published to assist nurses and doctors in the posing of dead children. The 1985 booklet, “A Most Important Picture,” was written by S. Marvin, Joy Johnson, James Cunningham, and Irwin J. Weinfeld and published by the Centering Corporation of Omaha. My own research indicates that many people take post-mortem photos of their dead children and parents and most professional photographers in the United States have had post-mortem portrait commissions.

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