Story: Death and dying

Post-mortem photography

Post-mortem photography

This photograph of a toddler, laid out in her best clothes prior to burial, was taken in the 1870s. The name of the child and the photographer are unknown. Post-mortem and memorial photography flourished in the late 19th century. Often this would be the first and only photograph of a dearly loved child. Photographs of the deceased were rapidly integrated into the mourning practices of Māori and non-Māori from the 1860s onwards. In the early 21st century, post-mortem photographs are seldom taken, but photographs of the dead person are frequently incorporated into funeral and memorial services.

About this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/4-018136

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Ruth McManus and Rosemary Du Plessis, 'Death and dying - Bodies of the dead', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/30408/post-mortem-photography (accessed 19 October 2017)

Story by Ruth McManus and Rosemary Du Plessis, published 5 May 2011