My favourite aspect of Civil War history is observing the social change brought about by the conflict. This article offers a glimpse at how funerary customs changed, and how embalming became de rigueur – unfortunate pun not intended!
(For more on the topic, Drew Gilpin Faust’s excellent This Republic of Suffering does a deep dive into the sea change resulting from the mass death.)
In doing research for “Memory Picture,” an interactive website I’m building that explains the pros and cons of our interment options, I’ve discovered many intriguing details about how we memorialize death. One of the most fascinating is how the founding of the modern funeral industry can essentially be traced back to President Abraham Lincoln and his embrace of embalming.