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wapoaWashington Post, March 31, 1904. Thoughtful of her to help defray the burial costs. My guess is that $20 in 1904 actually bought a fair bit of funeral. Also, that’s two shootings-in-the-heart in a row. I wonder if there are traceable trends in suicide styles at work here. It seems apt that Victorians should shoot themselves in the heart, whereas we post-sentimental post-moderns go straight for the gray matter. I am reminded of that radioactive passage from that now-famous commencement address by the late David Foster Wallace: “It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master.” Maybe the same was true of the heart in 1904; then the main site of pain moved north to the head during WWI. Discuss.


  1. Maybe people switched to the head because of the increased ability of surgeons to do heart surgery. A shot in the chest was probably more fatal in 1904 than it is now.

    • Even back in the day, a bullet to the heart could be a less than sure bet.
      Thanks for the comment, Pam.

        • MattChi
        • Posted June 6, 2009 at 12:40 am
        • Permalink

        Hi … I work for an online magazine in Chicago and I’m interested in possibly working up a piece featuring the site. I think it’s fascinating. Please send me an email when you have a few minutes.



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