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A pair of Wheeling historians and authors will present a program on “Mourning Traditions” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, in the B&O Building auditorium on the Wheeling campus of West Virginia Northern Community College.
The program by Judi Hendrickson, an academic affairs secretary at Northern, and Jeanne Finstein, is free and open to the public. They explained their presentation as follows: “To describe 19th century mourning traditions, this presentation first will outline the conditions of the time, including disease, lack of sterile practices, diets that lacked essential vitamins and nutrients, and medical treatments barely a step above witchcraft – all of which made death a very common occurrence.
“As the Civil War added another cause for mourning, rituals became more clearly defined and adhered to as much as finances and circumstances allowed. In large part, the stage had been set for these traditions by England’s Queen Victoria, who mourned the death of her husband for decades. Other traditions grew out of necessity – flowers at funerals, for example, to mask the odor of death and wakes that served as a safeguard against premature burial.”
Hendrickson and Finstein will describe these and many other traditions of the time, some of which continue to be observed. Their talk will be illustrated with pictures, showing such things as mourning garb and vintage photographs. They will be dressed in mourning attire of the historical period being reviewed.
They have extensive experience in researching and presenting topics of historical interest. Both are long-time members of Friends of Wheeling, a local historic preservation organization. Finstein is an educational software developer with Polyhedron Learning Media.