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Body Snatching: The Robbing of Graves for the Education of Physicians in Early Nineteenth Century America

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Also called "resurrectionists," body snatchers, were careful not to take anything from the grave but the body--stealing only the corpse was not considered a felony since the courts had already said that a dead body had no owner. ("Burking"--i.e., murder--was the alternative method of supplying "stiffs" to medical schools; it is covered here as well). This book recounts the Also called "resurrectionists," body snatchers, were careful not to take anything from the grave but the body--stealing only the corpse was not considered a felony since the courts had already said that a dead body had no owner. ("Burking"--i.e., murder--was the alternative method of supplying "stiffs" to medical schools; it is covered here as well). This book recounts the practice of grave robbing for the medical education of American medical students and physicians during the late 1700s and 1800s in the US, why body snatching came about and how disinterment was done, and presents information on: efforts to prevent the practice, a group of professional grave robbers, and the European experience.


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Also called "resurrectionists," body snatchers, were careful not to take anything from the grave but the body--stealing only the corpse was not considered a felony since the courts had already said that a dead body had no owner. ("Burking"--i.e., murder--was the alternative method of supplying "stiffs" to medical schools; it is covered here as well). This book recounts the Also called "resurrectionists," body snatchers, were careful not to take anything from the grave but the body--stealing only the corpse was not considered a felony since the courts had already said that a dead body had no owner. ("Burking"--i.e., murder--was the alternative method of supplying "stiffs" to medical schools; it is covered here as well). This book recounts the practice of grave robbing for the medical education of American medical students and physicians during the late 1700s and 1800s in the US, why body snatching came about and how disinterment was done, and presents information on: efforts to prevent the practice, a group of professional grave robbers, and the European experience.

34 review for Body Snatching: The Robbing of Graves for the Education of Physicians in Early Nineteenth Century America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    A good, comprehensive overview of the subject that also provides lots of individual cases and quotes primary sources.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Writer's Relief

    American history is fraught with oddball criminal cases, subcultures, and events that never make it into the textbooks. In BODY SNATCHING, Suzanne Shultz provides a fascinating and very readable account of the American body snatchers, or “resurrection men.” Body snatching was a serious problem in the nineteenth century that affected American families of every social class, many of whom took great pains to prevent relatives’ corpses from being stolen out of their graves. Most commonly, the perpet American history is fraught with oddball criminal cases, subcultures, and events that never make it into the textbooks. In BODY SNATCHING, Suzanne Shultz provides a fascinating and very readable account of the American body snatchers, or “resurrection men.” Body snatching was a serious problem in the nineteenth century that affected American families of every social class, many of whom took great pains to prevent relatives’ corpses from being stolen out of their graves. Most commonly, the perpetrators were medical students (or gangs of lower-class men hired by medical students) who struggled with an inadequate supply of cadavers for dissection. Before it was quelled, the illegal corpse trade became a burgeoning business, and some gangs rose to notoriety. Through a series of vignettes, period newspaper reports, and brief studies of individual physicians, students, and resurrection men, Shultz creates a morbidly captivating historical narrative that is not overburdened with minute details. At a brisk 144 pages, it’s definitely worth a look--and don’t pretend that you’re not even slightly curious.

  3. 5 out of 5

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