Saturday, April 24, 2010

Visible Proofs

Do modern crime scene photographs leave you sick to your stomach, or have repeated viewings of mangled corpses left you utterly desensitized to blood and gore? Either way, it may be time to return to a day when crime scene pictures were works of art. Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body, a website maintained by U.S. National Library of Medicine, has an array of stunningly creepy 19th century crime scene paintings, with descriptions of the circumstances behind them. Taken from Atlas of Legal Medicine published in 1898, they were apparently used as a teaching aid. The Atlas itself can be read on-line, or downloaded as a pdf file or in several ebook formats: Atlas of Legal Medicine (warning: Unlike the excerpts, the book as a whole is extremely graphic. View at your peril.)

Visible Proofs contains a wealth of exhibits and information on the history of forensic technologies such as Bertillon cards (precursor to mug shots), Reading gunshot patterns, the Marsh test for detecting arsenic poisoning, and others. It includes biographies of forensic science pioneers and crime related artifacts like a pamphlet from the 1680s - "A True Relation of a Barbarous Bloody Murder..." And there’s a utopian view of the future of forensics as envisioned in the 1930s.

Visible Proofs - well worth a click.


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