Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Current Exhibit: "So Once Were We": Death in Early America, October 17, 2011 - February 17, 2012


"So Once Were We": Death in Early America
October 17, 2011 - February 17, 2012
Main Room, Clements Library
909 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI

Curated by Cheney J. Schopieray
Assistant Curator of Manuscripts

Mortality is a useful lens through which we may view many aspects of early American society. So Once Were We explores American practices and traditions for coping with death, from the early years of European exploration and discovery to the early 20th century and the burgeoning modern funeral industry. 

"So Once Were We" is a partial line from a once-common verse, which has many variations.  One, from a Civil War-era tombstone in St. Clair County, Alabama, is "Remember us, as you pass by / as you are now, so once were we." The title embodies several themes in the exhibit: the transatlantic movement of ideas and traditions, the universal experience of death, and personal and collective remembrance.

The exhibit is organized topically and holds primary resources related to changing religious and social practices; illness, disease, and medicine; practical aspects of post-mortem care; etiquette and fashion; funerals and cemeteries; memory and commemoration; and the professionalization of death industries.

Open to the public in the Main Room of the Clements Library Monday through Friday from 1:00 pm to 4:45 pm. The Clements Library is located on the campus of the University of Michigan at 909 South University Avenue, Ann Arbor. For further information, visit our website or call 734-764-2347.

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