History of Cremation
All across the world, cremation has been a common way to handle a corpse for many centuries. Cremation started as far back as 20,000 years ago. There is evidence of cremation beginning in Europe roughly around 2,000 B.C. and many scholars believe the practice became quite popular around this time for Europeans.
Over time, the popularity of cremation began to wane. By the Middle Ages, cremation became a form of punishment and was not viewed as a compassionate way to care for the deceased. However, at the Vienna Exhibition of 1873, Professor Ludovico Brunetti revealed a furnace that he had invented specifically for cremation. Displayed with the furnace were about four pounds of cremated remains. Cremation reclaimed popularity by the late 1800’s and the first official crematory in the United States was constructed in 1876 in Washington, PA by Dr. Julius LeMoyne.
Cremation’s earliest supporters formed societies and associations, which were fed by the transformation of burial practices. By supporting a society or association, members were not only supporting the building of a crematory in their community, they were also pre-paying for their own cremation. An important way for early cremation supporters to get their message out was through propaganda. Cremation societies often published booklets and pamphlets that featured reasons for choosing cremation over burial, locations of the crematories in the US, opinions of notable persons who supported the movement, and photos of retorts and urn selections.
By 1913, there were 52 crematories across North America and more than 10,000 cremations occurring annually. The process of cremation as we know it now only began slightly over 100 years ago. As environmental and financial concerns dominate North American culture, cremation is still seeing a drastic rise in popularity. To learn more about why people are choosing cremation please visit the benefits of cremation
section of our website.