Sunday, December 03, 2006

To Be Frank, It Was a Dirty Job

If your ancestors lived in the vicinity of the University of Maryland medical school, there's a chance they were misappropriated soon after death.

A medical school janitor (named Frank) would follow funeral processions to a cemetery and go back at night to get the body. In 1830, a professor of surgery wrote to a doctor at Bowdoin College in Maine: "It will give me pleasure to render you any assistance in regard to subjects. . . . I shall immediately invoke Frank, our body-snatcher (a better man never lifted a spade) and confer with him on the matter. We can get them without any difficulty at present. . . ."

The professor went on to set the price and promised to send three bodies packed in barrels of whiskey. [Link]

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