We’ve all seen articles (on io9 no less!) or even entire blogs dedicated to the strange Victorian practice of posing dead bodies in standing positions so they can look alive for one last photograph but...did they?

No, no they didn’t.

Everyone in this photo is dead...now, but not when the picture was taken.

Today’s Ask A Mortician episode looks at this creepy old tradition that... popped up on the internet a few years ago.

The myth seems to have arisen from simple misinterpretation of photography from the era, the limits it had and the lengths people would go to take slow exposure photographs, particularly of difficult and fidgety subjects like children.

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Stands, sleeping subjects and (though it isn’t mentioned in the video) drawn or painted on corrections all add up to some unsettling looking photographs but a lack of proper context will do that.

This isn’t to say postmortem photography wasn’t widely practised in that era, it certainly was but the techniques for taking the pictures were little more than tilting coffins or at most, having a parent hold a small child (though in most of these the child is still most likely just asleep).

A pair of “postmortem photos” in which the left subject is clearly alive and moving her hands and feet, the right child may be deceased, or just very sickly.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet...even io9.

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The Myth of The Stand Alone Corpse.

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Mirrors and Memories (Mental Floss)