Postmortem Photography: An Appreciation

WARNING: This post contains photos of dead persons, though none are sensational or gruesome. If you are upset by such things, please skip this post. A few years back, I began collecting nineteenth-century photographs. In doing so, I have acquired a number of postmortem photographs. I find them moving and in many cases quite beautiful. …

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August Bondi

One of John Brown’s followers in Kansas was August Bondi (1833-1907), a Viennese Jew whose family had immigrated to the United States in 1848 and settled in St. Louis. Just before his family left Vienna, Bondi participated in the student uprising in that city. In 1855, eager for adventure, Bondi came to the territory of …

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Another Boardinghouse, Another Conspiracy

In 1865, a widowed Washington, D.C., boardinghouse keeper named Mary found herself at the center of a conspiracy: to kidnap President Lincoln. When the conspiracy plot turned into an assassination plot, Mary Surratt paid with her life, being hanged on July 7, 1865. Nearly six years earlier, however, another widowed boardinghouse keeper named Mary was …

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A Stop by the (First) Washington Monument

A few days ago, my family and I stopped by Maryland’s own Washington Monument–the first such structure erected to honor George Washington. In 1859, John Brown’s son Owen, fleeing with others after the raid at Harpers Ferry, stopped by the monument as well. In an interview by Ralph Keeler published in the March 1874 of …

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Why Isabelle d’Angoulême is hard to love: Guest Post by Sharon Bennett Connolly

I’m delighted to welcome Sharon Bennett Connolly back to my blog! I’ve known Sharon since her blogging days, and was delighted when she began to publish her biographies of historical women, including her brand-new one, Ladies of Magna Carta. Today’s woman, Isabelle of Angoulême, is one who’s long intrigued me. Over to Sharon! At first …

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The Sister Who Dated Lincoln First: Frances Todd Wallace

In the 1830s, Miss Frances Todd, living with her married sister Elizabeth Edwards in Springfield, Illinois, went out once or twice with one of the town’s up-and-coming lawyers, but found him to be insufficiently social, so the relationship, if it ever amounted to that, fizzled out. Fortunately, Frances’s younger sister, Mary, was more impressed with …

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