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Civil War Embalming

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Thursday, May 08, 2014by Courtney

On Thursday, May 8 at 6 p.m. the Helen Matthes Library and the Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association will host a presentation on Civil War Embalming - A Demonstration of Period Technique at the Old Court House in Effingham. 

The presentation will be by Jon Austin, a Road Scholar for the Illinois Humanities Council. In character as Dr. Benjamin F. Lyford, following the Battle of Gettysburg, Austin presents a first-person presentation in the style of a 19th century medical school lecture for general audiences, using a re-enactor "corpse" as a visual aid. The audience will learn about the verification of death, period medicine & chemistry, human anatomy, and the preparation of dead soldiers for shipping and burial, in addition to 19th century mourning rituals, Lincoln's funeral, and the ways in which modern funeral practices have developed over time. 

The event is being produced in part by the Illinois Humanities Council's Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, a program that provides organizations statewide with affordable, entertaining, and thought-provoking humanities events for their communities. A roster of speakers, hailing from 16 different towns and cities across Illinois, present topics in history, culture, literature, music, politics, law, science, and many more. Mallory Laurel, the IHC's coordinator for the program, states "The contagious passion our speakers have for their topics is what makes this program so dynamic and appealing. We don't need to change lives; we just want audiences to feel curious again."