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An Act for regulating Schools of Anatomy, print, England, 1832

The Anatomy Act of 1832, passed by the British government, regulated the supply of cadavers for medical research and anatomy teaching. Anatomists were given access to ‘unclaimed bodies’, those who had died without any family coming forward to claim them for burial. Previous to this only the bodies of executed criminals were legally available for dissection. The shortage of bodies was so great that some resorted to the crime of ‘body-snatching’ – the stealing of bodies from graveyards.

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Glossary: booklet

Small book consisting of a few sheets that are glued, stitched or stapled together between thin card or paper covers.

Glossary: anatomy

A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.

Glossary: dissection

The cutting apart and separation of body tissues for the purposes of critical examination. Dissection of corpses is often carried out for the study of anatomy.