On a cold autumn night in Baltimore, three men rush to the cemetery where they begin a grisly business under the cover of darkness. Each man is fearful of night patrolmen and any casual pedestrians, for their nightly escapade is both appalling and grim. These men have chosen the occupation of body snatching, a surprisingly popular job in the 19th century. One man is charged with transport; he drives a wagon to the cemetery then hides in an inconspicuous spot while the other two remain to dig up the body. With only a lantern, a tarp, a rope, and wooden shovels the two men continue their grim business. First, they lay out the tarp surrounding the grave and then begin to dig up the head portion of a coffin. They attempt to shield their lamplight from any one passing the cemetery and after an hour of digging, they finally break the coffin and pull the body out head-first using their rope. Just as their task is almost finished, an angry mob storms into the cemetery, so these two young men leave the site and run for their lives. The job of body-snatching was no easy task, in fact it came with quite a few risks and hassles. Yet it was an incredibly prevalent occupation in Westernized nations during the 19th century. Who were these men that risked angry mobs and bore the burden of snatching bodies for a living?
Hosey, Bridget, "Who Were the Body-Snatchers? A portrayal of those men that resorted to the occupation of stealing Human Cadavers in 19th Century America" (2015). History Class Publications. 29.