A Complete History of The
This collection of post-mortem photography has had
an online presence, in one form or another, dating
back to 1999, making The Thanatos Archive
the oldest and original post-mortem photography resource of its
What started out as a small group of friends and collectors
sharing their images has grown into one of the
premier post-mortem and mourning photography
Archives in the world. Our small staff is always on
the lookout for new acquisitions to add to our
In 2002, the domain Thanatos.net was acquired and
has been our permanent home ever since. At that
time, the website was an open resource of
post-mortem image sharing; by signing an electronic
agreement of ownership, collectors were able to
upload and share their own post-mortem photographs
here on our domain.
The very early, free
Archive and its accompanying discussion forum were a mix of photographs owned by
ourselves and by others, with the majority of the
images having been uploaded by our visitors. If we had decided to continue
in that manner, we estimate we would have been
hosting well over 35,000 images by 2012!
However, two things soon became apparent: despite
signing the electronic ownership waiver, there was
no possible way to verify that the images being
uploaded were actually owned by the person doing the
uploading. Out of
respect for our fellow collectors, we needed to take more control
over what was being allowed on our website. So,
in 2005, it was decided that visitor and member uploading of
images could no longer be allowed.
The Next Stage
For many years, from 1999 to 2007, access to
all photos on our domain was 100% free for all
In early 2007, it was necessary to make several
important changes. The rising costs and time
requirements involved in operating and
maintaining an extremely popular free online
database were putting a
strain on resources set aside for our primary goal, acquiring and
preserving original post-mortem and mourning
We had several considerations:
1. Allow the site to
revert back to its early days of free-for-all image
sharing, which would affect our ability to acquire
original images, and reopen the possibility of
images being shared without the owners' permission.
2. Have a free advertisement-driven site. After
reviewing the possibilities here, this proved to be
an unrealistic - and unsightly - option.
3. Remove our
online presence completely.
4. Continue to acquire original
photos and share
them with others around the world on Thanatos.net.
For us, choice was an easy one....
Option 4 had several benefits. Because the majority
of our images (outside of the sample gallery) were
now only available to a relatively small group
of people, this cut back bandwidth usage and costs
enormously. A smaller number of people browsing our
images (as opposed to thousands of unique hits per
day by casual viewers using thousands of megabytes
of bandwidth) also allowed us to improve the size and
quality of each image that we uploaded.
In addition, membership fees have allowed the
website to "pay for itself", freeing up more of our
limited funds to use for the acquisition of original
photographs and memorabilia.
Finally, making our database member-supported
drastically cut down on the unauthorized
proliferation of our scans by other
sites and blogs. This helps protect our members by
ensuring, to the best of our ability, that the
vast majority of images they have paid for access to view are
exclusive to our domain.
So, after eight years of free access, The
Thanatos Archive was converted to a member-sponsored resource in April
2007. Since that time, with the exception of a
special cases, the only images added to this
online archive are ones acquired and owned by us.
Please note that Thanatos.net
is not an
While some very old member
uploads remain in this database, their numbers were reduced
considerably in 2007, and primarily remain as a reminder
of this site's early days, with
member comments dating back nearly nine years! All
of the older scans remaining in this database were
uploaded by their presumed original owners, who
signed the electronic waiver when submitting them.
While the total number of images on the site (Nearly
as of January 2013) is not as high as it would have
been if we continued a free-for-all upload format, we
believe in image quality over quantity, and we know
that those who truly appreciate the art of
post-mortem photography feel the same way!
Today, in our fourteenth year of existence,
The Thanatos Archive is the most popular and
respected online post-mortem photography resource of
its kind and has a thriving, knowledgeable, and
loyal community of members and supporters. Our
photos have been in books and magazines, popular
television, and movies. New, exclusive, high quality
photographs and memorabilia are being acquired and added
to our site and member forum on a regular basis.
Please visit our membership
section for more details or to become an Archive
you see our images anywhere outside of
this domain or sites directly affiliated with us, the odds are extremely high that they
are being used without our permission by photo
harvesters - people who do not spend a penny of
their own money on original images and make no scans
of their own, but have no problem posting other
people's - even if that means using a graphics
program to crop out or completely remove our
Our photos are intended for our members and are only
rarely allowed to be posted outside of
this domain with special permission. If
you see one of our images on another website and
there is no mention of The Thanatos Archive
or a link back to us, you're probably on a pirate /
leech site and not a legitimate archive. A pirate
site only exists by harvesting scans from other sources without
permission to do so and with no investment of their
own in original images.
Please take a minute to
issue a complaint with the webmaster of the website you
found the images on. Thank you for your support!
Updated January 06, 2013