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The Paris Morgue

Posted by Anonymous Sunday, April 20, 2008

Its not common that I come across something in my studies that is both blog-worthy and not political. But I did this week and thought I'd share.

Did you know....

That in the late 19th century, the Paris Morgue was a place that was open for people to come and view anonymous corpses? Evidently they had a relatively high number of deceased who were found unidentified, so they set them up in a display case so that the public could come have a look. The hope was that they would be identified. However, one reason that led to the morgue's closing to the public in 1907 was that very few were ever identified, and not one was ever identified by accident (as in, the viewer just happened to be on a morgue-stroll that day and saw an old friend. Rather, they were only identified by people who were missing a loved one so specifically came looking for them.) The Paris Morgue was so popular, that there were certain instances where people would be lined up for hours to have a look. Many even referred to it as "free theatre".

Isn't that crazy? I learned about this in Spectacular Realities by Vanessa Schwartz, for a class I have called "Global Cities."

That's all I've got today for entertaining educational anomalies. Have a nice week.


Sarah said...

Wow. I guess it's not that different than people rubber necking at car crashes? OK. It's way different. Crazy old-timey Parisians!