Death and Dying in the Victorian Era - Atlas Obscura
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Denver, Colorado

Death and Dying in the Victorian Era

Everything You Wanted to Know about Victorian Mourning But Were Afraid to Ask.

The Victorians were fascinated with death. It was a source of spiritual interest, tourism, etiquette, and fashion.

Join the Denver Obscura Society for a delve into death in the Victorian Era. We'll have three specialists presenting on different aspects including mourning jewelry, mourning photography, and the mourning rituals of the "working girls" of the time.

Presenters will have items on hand for purchase including genuine Victorian mourning photography, jewelry, books on the topic, and more.

Special thanks to the Lighthouse Writer's Workshop for hosting us in their space. For more info about their programs go to:

Additional Information:

  • Please arrive 15 minutes before event start time to check in.
  • Event will run rain or shine.
  • This event is intended for an adult audience and may not be appropriate for ages below 13. Parental discretion is advised.
  • ADA: This venue is an old home and may not be accessible for all guests. The location involves negotiating at least one flight of stairs. Please contact for additional accessibility information/questions.
  • Parking lot adjacent to building and street parking available.
  • More information about presenters and topics below.



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Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final. No Refunds or Exchanges.


Mourning Jewelry: Mourning jewelry holds a morbid fascination for many, a repulsion for a few and can send goths and Victorian jewelry fans into a delighted swoon. Learn about the symbolism and the many materials used in the jewelry creation, including human hair. 

  • Randi Samuelson-Brown is a Denver native, and has been skulking around graveyards for as long as she can remember. Her first book, The Beaten Territory is being released by Five Star Publishing, October 2017.

Mourning Photography: The idea of photographing the dead is as old as photography itself. Join strange history enthusiast Kari Bergen as she explores the beauty and significance of post-mortem portraits in Victorian mourning and why the invention of photography is so closely tied to mourning culture and rituals. Illustrated with original artifacts and ephemera from Ephemera Obscura's private collection.

  • Kari Bergen is a Denver assemblage artist, paranormal investigator and since 2010 owner/curator of Ephemera Obscura, a collection of historical and rare, beautiful and strange, cherished and forgotten photographs, postcards and paper ephemera.

Mourning Rituals of the Sporting Girls: The flocks of "soiled doves" that formed the loose​, but universal,​ sorority of "frail sisters," considered degenerates and deviants from the ​social and ​sexual mores of the time, were outsiders from polite Victorian society. A bad end, tragic and violent, was thought inevitable for women who lived a life of shame and vice. Even in death, the stain of a life of dissipation was enough to preclude them from a ​good and ​proper burial​ in a churchyard. Ann will share historical accounts of how the bonds of the "frail sisterhood" ensured that their sisters in sin, ostracized in life, were afforded dignity in death.

  • Ann Sneesby-Koch is a digital librarian, managing a project to digitize historic Colorado newspapers at History Colorado. She tends a Twitter account, @Nymph_du_Pave, where she tweets sundry diversions about soiled doves, wayward girls, bad women, and worse whiskey ripped from old newspapers and other historical sources. She is also the expert presenter for Atlas Obscura's tour of historic brothels in downtown Denver.