Invasion of the Body-Snatchers

I am a prodiguous consumer of podcasts.  I have never been a fan of talk radio – maybe because the available topics were always so limited – but I love podcasts.  My subscriptions consist of a strange combination of audio theater (my favorite work-time background noise), craft-related writing podcasts, true crime, fandom-related, odd history, and, of course, the Nerdist (if you haven’t listened to the Anthony Mackie one yet, do.  Right now.  It’s hilarious).  I binge-listened to the first season of Serial (three times) and every season of “Wormwood“.  I’ve been working my way through the first “We’re Alive” story for the past couple months so I can get caught up with the second, “Lockdown,” eventually.

I listen to a lot of podcasts and my tastes are varied, I mean to say.  (And you should listen to the linked ones, too, because they’re awesome.)

All this is meant as lead up to this story, which appeared on the Criminal podcast yesterday.  I spent a lot of time while I was preparing the second Holmes and Watson book researching British resurrectionists – way too much time for such a small plot point, but when I fall down a research black hole I sometimes never emerge.  I enjoy research; it’s probably why I minored in US History and was part of the history honor’s society in college.

The story of “One-Eyed Joe” Frankford is further evidence that, for a long time, the US lagged behind Great Britain in just about everything – including dealing with grave-robbers and body-snatchers.  The problem the UK legislated out of existence (for the most part) in 1832, we didn’t deal with until 1898.  Of course, it took two Edinburgh boys named Burke and Hare who decided it was easier to kill a body than dig it up to help push through the Anatomy Act of 1832.  The criminal trials of Dr. William Forbes of Jefferson Medical School in 1882 and Dr. John Bacon of Eastern State Penitentiary in 1897 helped force the issue in the US.  To Dr. Forbes’ credit, he had a hand in writing the 1898 Act (which was specific to Pennsylvania, but started a more widespread conversation), as well as its predecessor in 1867.

This is the kind of odd stuff that will come up if anyone ever digs through my internet search history.  (This is probably one of the tamer things, actually.)