PODCAST EPISODE

Resurrectionists a.k.a. Body Snatchers

History of Business

May 21 2021 • 35 mins


The city of Baltimore is considered the largest and most populous in the state of Maryland. It attracts thousands of tourists, most of whom come for the scenic Inner Harbor and for a taste of the mouth-watering crab dishes served in practically every restaurant.

But Baltimore in the 18th and 19th centuries had an entirely different reputation. At the time and under the cover of darkness, men would routinely sneak into cemeteries located across the city. Armed with dim lanterns and wooden shovels, they desecrated graves and dug up the dead, working in fear of the night patrolmen and casual passersby.

Most of the time, these grim nightly escapades ended successfully, with the fresh corpse ending up on a medical student’s table the following day.

But sometimes, the men would be caught, either chased away by an angry mob or charged with a misdemeanor by the police.

Referred to as “body-snatching,” this grisly business proliferated in Baltimore, despite the risks that it carried. In addition to legal violations, those who worked in this profession also carried with them the stigma of robbing graves for a living.

But there’s a reason why body-snatchers – or “Resurrectionists,” as they preferred to call themselves – willingly partook in this macabre career.


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