Death & Dying

The Death & Dying Collection spans the worlds cultures and consists of about 4,000 photographs (1840-1996). It contains one of the largest archives of early images of death and dying and is particularly note worthy for its daguerreotypes. Numerous exhibitions and the 1990 "Best Photo Book of the Year", Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America was prepared from the collection.

Husban at the Side of Wife's Casket

Other texts are currently in production. The main emphasis of the collection is the personal, memorial photographs taken by and for families of the deceased. Other sub-collections include war death, executions, news worthy deaths such as criminal violence, accidents etc. Limited edition prints of many of the iconic images are available. We welcome contact with people interested in the field.

Death In America
In 1997, award winning Producer-Director, J.R. Olivero, in association with Dr. Stanley B. Burns, completed the first comprehensive video documentary on the study of death and it's effects on American Society. "Death In America", is now available from the Burns Archive or the Death In America website.

"Death In America" is an overview of cultural and philosophical evolution on the subject of illness and death in the last four centuries of American History. It investigates changes in popular attitudes, medical and technological advances, legislative issues, religious teachings and cultural taboos. "Death In America" also looks at the unusual, darker and occasionally humorous side of these issues. As examples, physicians keeping grave robbers on retainer for over 250 years, the Bayer company inventing Heroin, baby bottles killing thousands of children each year and the editor of the Ladies Home Journal inventing the Living Room! Morals and medicine, miracles and mortuaria, "Death In America" is an amalgamation of how we have and do view ourselves here and hereafter.

Controversial death related issues such as assisted suicide are discussed by Dr. Kevorkian's lawyer, Jeffrey Feiger, along with ethicist of the Catholic church and the American Medical Association.

Photographs & Text © 1996-98 Burns Archive All Rights Reserved