Don’t let the Hallmark Channel fool you – it’s not the holiday season yet. It’s October – that means Halloween. If you’re looking to get your fix of scary and spooky (and perhaps a little bit of gloom), look no further than Digital Horizons.
Digital Horizons is an online digital library containing thousands of images, documents, videos, and oral histories depicting life on the Northern Plains. Members of the Digital Horizons consortium include the North Dakota State Library, North Dakota State University, State Historical Society of North Dakota, Concordia College, Prairie Public, and more!
Digital Horizons has a plethora of Halloween-related items. If you do a general search for “Halloween” across all collections, you’ll get over 400 results back. Let’s narrow down the search and start with a few lighthearted images, like this 1951 school Halloween party from the North Dakota Memories collection.
The North Dakota School for the Deaf’s newsletter, The Banner, often liked to get into the Halloween spirit with its cover art, like this one of a dancing scarecrow from the fall 1997 issue. And speaking of The Banner, the State Library has the entire Banner collection available on Digital Horizons.
Now that we’re feeling all warm and fuzzy, let’s dive right in to the dark side. It wouldn’t be Halloween-ish if we didn’t delve into death. There are many different death-related images on Digital Horizons. They include accidents, animals, natural disasters, murders, funerals, etc. A couple of the more iconic images – in one way or another – under the death category include:
- Body of Jeanette Munson being removed from rubble after 1957 Tornado, Fargo, N.D. Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo (co000604).
- Body of deceased man in burned automobile near Moorhead, Minnesota, 1954-12-25. Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo (2098.234).
- Dead cow after blizzard near Hazelton, N.D., 1966-03-09. State Historical Society of North Dakota (C1477).
Nothing says creepy like mad scientists and evil doctors working on their experiments. In this image, there is no mad or evil, but we do have creepy in the form of medical students examining a cadaver.
And finally, keeping the dark train rolling, nothing says grim more than funerals.
And when it comes to funerals, none are more iconic than the Wolf family funeral. In the spring of 1920 on a farm near Turtle Lake, North Dakota, a dispute between neighbors escalated into Henry Layor murdering Jacob and Beatta Wolf, five of their children, and a chore boy. Only a baby, Emma, was left alive, reportedly because Layor didn’t find her (she is marked with a small X in the image). Layer was later convicted and spent the rest of his life in prison.
Digital Horizons has many funeral images across its collections. A few of the rather morbid ones include:
- Deceased child in casket, Williston, N.D., circa 1926-1928. State Historical Society of North Dakota, William E. (Bill) Shemorry Photograph Collection (1-78I-7).
- Parents with dead child, Kongsvinger, Norway. Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo (2060.3.9).
- Unidentified woman in open casket, circa 1940s. Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo (2060.4.14).
- Deceased baby lying on pillow and blanket. Institute for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo (2060.3.13).