Being Buried Alive: The Fear that Swept 19th Century America

Upcoming Event

Being Buried Alive: The Fear that Swept 19th century America
Appoquinimink Library

Speaker: Margaret Opsata

Suitable for Schools · Grades 9–12

The line dividing life from death was not clearly defined in the 1800’s.  In the rush to bury a corpse quickly, before contagious disease could spread, people who were comatose, catatonic, sedated, or just plain drunk were sometimes mistaken for dead.  Factual and fictional accounts of unfortunate souls awakening in their coffin, combined with medical disagreements about how to test definitively for absence of life, created widespread panic and led to imaginative inventions for preventing premature burial.