Poor Sweet Child (Blog Exclusive)


A circa 1860 stereoview showing a sick, dying (or already dead?) girl in bed, surrounded by medicine bottles and having her pulse checked by a doctor, while mother (?) waits anxiously nearby. This appears to be a staged “genre” scene, however, “Ella Platt & Dr. Mansfield”, along with “Poor Sweet Child”, is written in period handwriting on the back. Thanatos Archive membership options @ http://www.thanatos.net/membership

Ambrotype of W.W. Godding, Asylum Engraving

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One of two early-1860s 1/6 ambrotypes in our collection of Dr. William Whitney Godding, taken at around the time he began working as the Superintendent of the Government Hospital for the Insane (later renamed St. Elizabeth’s) in Washington, D.C., along with a period engraving.

Godding worked at SE for many years, where he tried to provide good conditions for and humane treatment of the patients at a time when a lot of them were treated poorly. Several buildings on the East Campus of St. Elizabeth’s were named after him, but they eventually emptied out and fell into disrepair. I think they’re being redeveloped by the city now.

“But, though unbidden, and not mentioned above a whisper, the spectre is never wanting at our feast; step by step, keeping pace with our ever advancing civilization, still stalks the growing shadow of brain decay, with its attendants, apoplexy and insanity. We lock up our insane man in the hospital, and think that we are rid of him; vain is our selfish hope; we cannot thus shake him off, for is he not our neighbor? nay, may he not be our brother? worse yet, at the next turn, what shall prevent that the insanity may not happen even to ourselves?” W.W. Godding

Young Boy at Father’s Grave (Blog Exclusive)


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January, 1925: 4-year-old John McNamara Jr. taking flowers to the grave of his father, who died in 1922 at 41 years old. His grave is located in East New Market Cemetery, in Maryland. John Jr. died in 1969 at the age of 48.

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Updated Subscription Rates for 2019


We’ve introduced new, lower subscription rates for 2019. If you want to lock in this price, now is a good time to become a Thanatos Archive member.
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2019 subscriptions!
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Posthumous Painting [ Original! ]

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Against all odds, online research turned up a photo of the original painting shown in our posthumous daguerreotype [ Archive Image #3348 ]!! Sadly, it’s not part of our Archive, but was sold at auction in 2012 for around $12,000. The auction describes it as a circa 1840 unframed oil on canvas, measuring 47″ x 30″. If you look closely, you will see the boy is wearing a hoop earring, which I found interesting. Unframed and unsigned, though attributed to Joseph Goodhue Chandler, an itinerant painter who worked around northern Massachusetts in the 1840s.  Unfortunately the children are not identified anywhere on the work.