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In Awe Of Death: A Comparative Analysis Of Glass Viewing Windows In American Caskets and Coffins

Author(s): Jessica Sanger

Year: 2017

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A comparative analysis of glass viewing windows present within interments during the Victorian Era and into the early twentieth century provides a unique perspective on the socioeconomic status of black and white communities throughout this time period, as well as an interpretation of assumptions made as to which individuals purchased these adornments for their dearly departed. This study examines Freedman’s Cemetery in Dallas, Texas, as well as seventy-nine other historic black and white cemetery populations to document the presence of viewing windows in coffins or caskets and to infer the meanings inherent in their use, through a study of race, gender, class, and location. In particular, African-Americans around the time of Emancipation had the ability to purchase elaborate mortuary hardware and trimmings along with practicing once denied funerary traditions. Furthermore, this newfound freedom granted the opportunity to display wealth comparable to white society. 

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In Awe Of Death: A Comparative Analysis Of Glass Viewing Windows In American Caskets and Coffins. Jessica Sanger. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435500)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 600

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America