Large Mourning Die Cut (Blog Exclusive)

Large (12″ x 10″) memorial die cut for Catharine Costello, a little girl who died at 3 years and 9 months in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1883. Her cause of death was “Paralysis of the heart”. This die cut features many classic mourning symbols, including a broken pillar, draped urn, hourglass, willow trees, and more. Die cut memorials were popular in the middle-to-late 19th century; they are made of heavy embossed paper with cut out sections. The piece shown here has a piece of black paper behind it. Visit the Thanatos Archive to view more of our post mortem and memorial collection. Membership options @

Schoolhouse Morgue / Johnstown Flood, 1889


“The Great Flood”, Johnstown, PA, 1889, 2200+ dead.

An apocalyptic scene showing the Millvale School surrounded by a desert of sand, mud and debris several feet deep. Because it was one of a handful of buildings in the immediate area strong enough to survive the flood, it was turned into a temporary morgue; the men and horses are shown delivering coffins and bodies of victims to the side entrance.

* We have several Johnstown Flood related images in the collection, including a post-mortem cabinet card of a little girl who was found in the river and never identified.

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Axe Murderess, 1871 (Blog Exclusive)


Original CDV from our collection showing George Campbell, his wife Phoebe, and their orphaned children. Phoebe was found guilty and hanged for the murder. The full story, from Wikipedia, follows:

Phoebe Campbell (c. 1847 – 20 June 1872) was a Canadian woman who was hanged for the murder of her husband. Campbell had alleged that on the morning of July 15, 1871, in Thorndale, Middlesex County, Ontario, two black-faced men broke into George and Phoebe’s log cabin home and brutally hacked George to death with an axe because he refused to hand over some money. They had attempted to use a gun which misfired. During the investigation, six local men were arrested, including Thomas Coyle, who was George’s farmhand. Doubt about Phoebe’s innocence arose rapidly as she was seen talking with Coyle, she also seemed to have done nothing to help save her husband as he was being murdered, also she seemed very unemotional following the funeral for George. A coroner’s autopsy also showed that indeed George was murdered by Phoebe and Coyle. “I don’t care. I’m innocent and I don’t care.”, Phoebe stated.

She then accused Coyle of the murder then quickly changed her mind then accused her cousin. Phoebe’s murder trial began on April 1, 1872, with much public interest. Phoebe accused George of having an affair with her cousin’s wife. During the trial, the crown prosecutor produced a letter which stated, “I never shall say you done any such thing again—if I have to die for it.” When asked why she changed her testimony, she claimed the ghost of her late husband visited her and declared her and Coyle innocent. The crown prosecutor responded, “You can hardly expect anyone to believe such nonsense!” After the trial, the jury took just one hour to reach a guilty verdict.

Phoebe then sobbed as the judge sentenced her to hanging. She later confessed that she and Coyle murdered George so they could marry. Coyle did go to trial for his crime but was acquitted. He later moved to England. She was hanged on June 20 at the age of 25 and was again said to be emotionless as she was about to be hanged, holding a lace handkerchief in her hand until after she died.

Annie Florence and Alice (Archive Image #3295)

Photo courtesy Rscott04101

The shared grave of Annie Florence Brigham (b. April 22, 1866) and Alice Brigham (b. April 21, 1864) both of whom died of scarlet fever in 1868 (Alice on May 29, Annie on June 17). The sisters are buried at Main Street Cemetery in Hudson, Massachusetts. If you are an Archive member, a stereoview photo of their grave as it appeared in 1868 is available: Thanatos Archive members

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