Post-Mortem Picture in Bohemian National Cemetery


Although there are at least three memorial pictures (and two heads) missing from this large headstone in Chicago’s Bohemian National Cemetery, the photograph that remains provides a plethora of genealogical clues.


Not to mention what an amazing treasure the photograph itself must be for descendants of the Benes family!


I don’t have any post-mortem photos of my own ancestors, but my husband has several.

Do you have any after-death photos in your family history collection? How do you feel about them?

Are they treasures? Do they creep you out? Or is it a little of both?

4 thoughts on “Post-Mortem Picture in Bohemian National Cemetery

  1. Years ago, my mother was engaged to a fellow who died. Many, many years later whenever his name would come up, she would recount how his sister had taken pictures of him in the coffin and how horrified she was by that. In the 1980s I was at a family funeral in Southern Illinois. During the wake, the family had everyone pose around the coffin for family pictures. Being the graver that I am I wish I had some of those photos today. I have seen it more recently when the family wanted to send photos of the wake and funeral back to relatives in Europe who could not attend. Frankly I am surprised that Find a Grave does not allow post-mortem pictures on the site. As far as this photo goes, looks like Frantiska had a great wake!


    • I have to admit that (although I think post-mortem pictures are a bit creepy), I would love to discover one in my family tree. Especially if the subject was an ancestor I hadn’t yet seen.

      Funny how your perception changes when you spend lots of time in cemeteries, isn’t it?


  2. When I was very young (and Catholic) I was an altar boy and served at many wakes and funerals. It was the first time I saw someone taking polaroids of the dearly departed. I have to admit that it “creeped me out!” But I found that it was common among the French-Canadians, who were quite prevalent in our neighborhood. so much so that there was a French-Canadian grammar school and church, F-C nuns and priests, and you HAD to learn French!

    Today, I’m not as much “creeped out” and actually can understand the purpose of keeping those memories.


    • Hi Dave,

      Eek, I didn’t think about the young people who would have witnessed such a thing. Although….maybe….such an experience would make one less squeamish about some of our genealogical discoveries. Causes of death for example.

      Have you retained any of your French?


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