'An Act for regulating schools of Anatomy', pamphlet, framed
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.