Death and Modernity: 1870-1950

Late 19th century funeral showing professional floral arrangements

Coming into the modern world, people where no longer finding comfort in ritual or religion. At the same time, science had advanced to an understanding of bacteria. With this came improved sanitation and the transition from infectious diseases, which affected the young, to degenerative, which affected the old. The decline of infant mortality removed much of the tragedy and suddenness of death, while the willingness to trust professionals with the dead and dieing increased. No longer forced to confront the “king of terrors”, Schenectadians lost their ability to articulate their emotions as they once had.

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