Volume 30, Issue 2 (April 1985)
The Legal Legacy of the Resurrectionists
The availability of human cadavers for dissection has been a continuing problem for hundreds of years. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, body stealing or grave robbing became common in order to meet the demands of physicians and medical schools for bodies for dissection. The activities of the grave robbers, or “resurrectionists,” as they were also called, created a public outcry. Numerous laws were enacted to provide criminal sanctions for body snatching. It was not until the late nineteenth century, however, that body donation laws dried up the lucrative practice of the resurrectionists. Indirectly, their legal legacy persists to this day.