Photographs of the dead


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Lane

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Would just like to point out and support the talk that there is a historical and sane emotion that directs people to have a want to see the pictures of the bodies. Its just part of the story and pictures of the aftermath include those of the victims. Sounds as if Halifax has the pictures somewhere and it seems as if someone would have taken it upon themselves in a book research or something to find and protect them. The worst thing that could happen is they are lost or destroyed over time. It's history! No survivors are left, so it's time to at least open up the chance for such to be seen. Just my HO.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Hmmmmmmmmm.....

The pictures are an odd proposition. As with these Lusitania corpse descriptions, and THESE on people only dead 24 hours (!), there are a number of reasons why the pictures should be used selectively, if at all:

"An elderly lady, between 40 and 50, hair turning grey, eyes picked out by birds, face full round and freckled. Fairly stout, about 5 foot three inches, very well dressed and wearing a lot of jewelry, and had a good set of natural teeth. On the third finger of her left hand she wore four gold rings, one jeweled with white stones, the second jeweled with three blue stones and two white; the third with five pearls, and the fourth jeweled with three red and two white stones. On her left wrist was an expanding gold wristlet watch, with initials A.G.S. on the back, and the watch had stopped at 2:30. On her right hand she wore two gold diamond rings, one set with a large stone and the other with two large and several small diamonds. Also an old gold oval bangle engraved and around her neck was a long gold chain off which something had apparently been broken. She worse several small gold safety pins set with diamonds; a small black bow was attached to one, and she had a gold clip for holding a pair of spectacles…

"A second lady, Miss Hickson, was badly mutilated, her eyes being pulled out, probably by birds. She had a bent wrist, but this was the result, apparently, of an old accident….

"A fourth lady, also damaged by birds, was well dressed, stout….

Sea birds, you see, very quickly eat your eyes, lips, and the fleshy portions of your cheeks. With that informnation, you can fill in what Mrs. Anne Shimer and Mrs Hickson Kennedy (above) looked like a day after they died.

>No survivors are left,

In the case of the Lusitania, which I know more about, of the bodies shown in Ballard's MONTAGE OF THE DEAD, Betty Bretherton has a brother who is still alive, Eva Grandidge has a cousin who is still living, Lily Lockwood has a brother still alive, and at the time the montage first ran I think Margaret Coughlin had a still living brother. In all cases, the families described are, shall we say, Lusitania aware...

I dont think that the Titanic is any different. Although the remaining photos should be preserved, it should also be remembered that each of those pictures still has the potential to offend people close to the victim. The photos should be used sparingly, if at all.
 
I'm going to add an opposing viewpoint here.

Yes, these photos are pretty ghastly. While there is a morbid fascination that some people (on Find a Death, they're nicknamed "Death Hags") with this type of photo, that fascination can also lead to awareness and a better understanding of what happened to these people and to the full horror of the sinking.

Similar to the crime scene photos of the Tate/LaBianca killings: because of those photos and how horrible they are, people become interested in the case and are able to grasp the severity of the crimes.

Overall, it's not always clear what happened to the Titanic victims. Cameron's film does a good job, but they are stunt actors and CG people that don't really have an emotional connection with the audience.

You look at photos of the actual victims and what they went through...during and after death...and you are able to put together what no dramatic portrayal can ever do.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Nahhh... seeing the photos of Sharon Tate dead doesnt add to your knowledge of what happened to her. You already KNOW she was stabbed 16 times and was two weeks away from giving birth. Seeing the snapshots taken of her the afternoon she was killed, however, induces an emotion that the death photos do not. Just as the May 1 snapshot of scientist Anne Shimer, standing on the Lusitania's promenade deck, smiling for her sister's camera, tells you more about Anne than a photo of her with her eyes torn out and her lips eaten does.

My main issue with using the photos, or allowing open access to them, is that it introduces the element of morbid curiosity AND has the potential to offend the family members of those green faced, eyeless, cadavers. They should be preserved. They should be accessible for specific research inquiries. But, they should never be used for freak show purposes.
 
>> seeing the photos of Sharon Tate dead doesnt add to your knowledge of what happened to her

But it drives the ferocity home, Jim. That's what I'm getting at. And many, many people have been inspired to read further on the subject based on happening upon the crime scene photos.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>But it drives the ferocity home, Jim.

okay. She was tied to her dead ex-fiance. She had just seen two close friends murdered. She had been told "look____ I have no mercy for you." She became justifiably hysterical, and then when she realized that she was about to die, she became calm again and asked them to cut out her baby and take it with them. The merits of doing that were discussed in her presense. Then, they killed her.

Honestly, the photo of Sharon's nursery, painted the day she died, (Yellow, with a border of white ducks), is sadder and more thought provoking than her postmortem pictures are. Her death shots dont tell you anything about who she was, or what she might have become. The photos of the room into which she proudly pulled every visitor she had in that final week, drive home a far better point.... the white ducks against a yellow background, in a way, ARE Sharon. The blood smears and gaping mouth arent.

Does one really need to see the photo of her "smiling," with a noose around her neck and her face covered in blood, to understand that this was a fairly horrific event?

With the Lusitania, many of the bodies had head damage. Others looked like they were sleeping. The Titanic pictures, I do not doubt, are probably the same odd mix of disturbing and peaceful. I just dont see a greater good coming from making these photos easily accesible. The group shot of the Sage family posed in front of their house says more about the disaster than a photo of any of them dead ever could.
 
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