Teaming up for a Historic Forensic Project

     Dr. Stanley Burns and noted forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden met to discuss a joint volume on the photographic history of forensic science. This unique project will include Dr. Burns’ historic photos documenting the genesis of medical forensic studies from the 1860s on. These images will be combined with Dr. Baden’s own photographs taken over five decades of work as a medical examiner. Baden’s noted high-profile pathology and expert witness cases have included John F. Kennedy, Czar Nicholas II, Sid Vicious, OJ Simpson and John Belushi. Dr. Baden’s HBO’s Autopsy series is recognized as the first forensic television program. Burns’ photographs have been in numerous exhibitions on historical crime photography and featured on HBO’s Autopsy.
Dr. Michael Baden, Photo by ForensicScience.net

Dr. Stanley Burns Viewing the Baden Collection


Houston Dermatological Society: Dermatology in the 19th Century

On Monday, December 12, Stanley Burns MD, FACS lectured as guest speaker for the Houston Dermatological Society's annual ethics meeting in Houston, Texas.

Nineteenth Century Photography and its Role in the Creation of Modern Dermatology

The core of the lecture consisted of over 250 nineteenth century photographs of dermatological patients.

A Few Topics Discussed:
• Worldwide- Dermatologists produced more photographic atlases than all other medical fields combined.
• New York Dermatologists produced the greatest number of photographic atlases.
• New York’s George Henry Fox, one of the six founders of the American Dermatological Association, produced more atlases than any other physician. He influenced generations of dermatologists.
• Photography produced an objective detailed description.
• Provided a permanent document for future evaluation.
• Allowed non specialists to recognize skin disease.

Dr. Burns with HDS President Melissa Bogle, MD
Melissa Bogle, MD with Asra Ali, MD
The Attendees at Brennan's of Houston

Featured Images:

To Learn More About 19th Century Dermatology 
Read Dr. Burns' Four Volume Series 'Skin Pictures'


Photographing the Dead: Observatory Lecture Pics

A big thanks to everyone who attended The Burns Archive lecture and book signing at The Observatory last week. Warm gratitude goes to Joanna Ebenstein and volunteers from The Morbid Anatomy Library for hosting this wonderful event. If you were not able to make it before the event sold out, we look forward to presenting on more lectures in 2012. 

Joanna Ebenstein and Dr. Burns
Attendees at Photographing the Dead

Book Signing and Reception

Dr. Stanley Burns and Lissa Rivera of The Burns Archive
View slideshow below and tag yourself in our Picasa web album:


Upcoming Lecture Reminder: Photographing the Dead

 Observatory: 543 Union Street (at Nevins), Brooklyn, NY 11215
Monday, December 5th, 8:00pm, Admission: $5
 Presented by Morbid Anatomy

Postmortem photography, photographing a deceased person, was a common practice in the 19th and early 20th centuries. These photographs, from the beginning of the practice until now, are special mementos that hold deep meaning for mourners through visually “embalming” the dead. Although postmortem photographs make up the largest group of nineteenth-century American genre photographs, until recent years they were largely unseen and unknown. Dr. Burns recognized the importance of this phenomenon in his early collecting when he bought his first postmortem photographs in 1976. Since that time he has amassed the most comprehensive collection of postmortem photography in the world and has curated several exhibits and published three books on the subject: the Sleeping Beauty series. Tonight, Dr. Burns will speak about the practice of postmortem photography from the 19th century until today and share hundreds of images from his collection.

These titles will be available for sale & signing at Observatory the night of the lecture:

Sleeping Beauty III Memorial Photography: The Children

Sleeping Beauty II: Grief, Bereavement & The Family in Memorial Photography… 

Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography by R.B. Bontecou 

News Art: Manipulated Photographs from the Burns Archive

Deadly Intent, Crime & Punishment: Photographs from the Burns Archive 

Seeing Insanity: Photography & The Depiction of Mental Illness 

Below are a few more of the hundreds of images that will be discussed: 


About Sleeping Beauty: Dr. Burns’ first book on postmortem photography, Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America (1990) has been widely recognized as one of the most important photography books of all time. Sleeping Beauty has influenced an eclectic array of fields, from bereavement counseling and education to cultural anthropology, history, medicine, philosophy, religion and spirituality (not to mention pop music) and has been cited in debates on the death penalty, euthanasia and abortion. It has been the subject of numerous scholarly papers as well as seminars and exhibitions at notable institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The New Museum of Contemporary Art. A decade later the Archive published Sleeping Beauty II: Grief, Bereavement & The Family in Memorial Photography American & European Traditions in conjunction with an exhibit at the Musée d’Orsay. Sleeping Beauty III Memorial Photography: The Children, the third installment in this series was released this year to accompany a traveling exhibition.