Death in the archives



Documents from the Bristol Archives collections are currently appearing in two exhibitions: our own display, Documenting Death (until 12 March 2016) and death: the human experience, a major exhibition at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery (until 13 March 2016).





Papers of Richard Smith, 19th century


Richard Smith (1772-1843) was a surgeon at the Bristol Infirmary who built an extensive collection of papers about the medical history of Bristol. Documents about capital punishment and the dissection of criminals’ bodies feature in death: the human experience and Documenting Death.


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Mourning card for Frances Helen Prideaux, 1885

Dr Prideaux was a promising young surgeon from Bristol who contracted diphtheria whilst working at a hospital in London. The Prideaux family papers include documents related to her career and death; this card is included in Documenting Death.


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Postcard showing the funeral of Private Thomas Bowen of Bristol’s Own, 1915


Thomas Bowen was the first of member of the Bristol's Own battalion to die. He succumbed to pneumonia after collapsing during training and he was buried at Arnos Vale with full military honours. The postcard can be seen in death: the human experience.


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Artist’s book: ‘Reincarnation Study’ by Don Celender, 1982

This book presents responses by well-known people to the question ‘If reincarnation were available to you, in what form would you like to return?’. It is on display in death: the human experience.


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