Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America

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MIT Press, Jul 23, 1999 - Photography - 232 pages
5 Reviews
Secure the Shadow uses a combination of cultural anthropology and visual analysis to explore the photographic representations of death in the United States from 1840 to the present. It looks at the ways in which people have taken and used photographs of deceased loved ones and their funerals to mitigate the finality of death.

Ruby employs newspaper accounts, advertisements, letters, photographers' account books, interviews, and other material to determine why and how photography and death became intertwined in the nineteenth century. He traces this century's struggle between America's public denial of death and a deeply felt private need to use pictures of those we love to mourn their loss.

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Review: Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America

User Review  - Susan - Goodreads

I have had this book since 1999. It is a wonderful source of information for postmortem photography. The pictures are somber, but the history is fascinating. This book inspired me to start a collection of Victorian mourning memorabilia. Read full review

Review: Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America

User Review  - Matt - Goodreads

Fairly academic, but a terrific resource if you want to learn about death photography. I was particularly impressed by the firsthand accounts from photographers in the 19th century. Read full review

About the author (1999)

Jay Ruby is Professor of Anthropology at Temple University. His most recent book is Secure the Shadow: Death and Photography in America (1995).

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