Teacher Workshop The Material Culture of Death 21 October 2017.Saturday, 9:00AM - 4:00PM Registration fee: $25 per person

Grief was serious business in the nineteenth century. We will explore grim reminders of lives lost such as mourning jewelry, postmortem photographs, samplers, and household goods. Women played an important role in creating these objects and fostering remembrance, but so too did photographers, artists, and con men. Using documents and photographs from the Society’s collections participants can investigate spirit photography, the spiritualist movement, and other fascinating intersections of technology, faith, and grief.

This program is open to all K-12 educators. Teachers can earn 22.5 PDPs or one graduate credit (for an additional fee).

Image: John Gray mourning ring, Gold, enamel, crystal, gold foil, hair by unidentified goldsmith. [Boston?, 1763]


  • Meet Peter Manseau and discuss his new book, The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography, and the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost.
  • Investigate the causes of the growing popularity of mourning souvenirs (such as china, handkerchiefs, needlework, medals, and jewelry)  the nineteenth century.  
  • View and and analyze photographs and artifacts from the Society's collection. 
  • Take a walking tour of three of downtown Boston's burying grounds with Boston By Foot and dig deeper into the religious views, practices, symbolism, and traditions of death in Boston.
  • Discover suggestions for connecting material culture of death to curriculum frameworks, as well as modern-day practices.