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February 24, 1900


Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1900;XXXIV(8):471-476. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.24610080023001i

A study of the customs of civilized nations of this and many past generations shows that we have blindly accepted one custom and followed it for indefinite years, without much question. It is that of the disposition of our dead. Long-accepted custom has decreed that earth-burial is proper, and we have accepted it. Once in a great while we experience a rude shock as we learn of an event that took place in Cuba during the late war—the necessary saturation of the bodies of the victims of yellow fever with oil, and their burning on vast pyres because the sanitation of a city demanded it—but we lapse into reacceptance of the old custom and continue to think earth-burial the only procedure for ordinary death. Few men care to think and reason about such matters until forced by the presence of grim death, and then grief holds sway and the time

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