Abstract

This article introduces the Latter-day Saint “legend of the naked dead,” which in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a widely known story emphasizing the importance of proper burial, including the ritual clothing of the dead. The ceremonial robes and garments that Latter-day Saints wear in temple services are also worn in the grave. In these stories, apparitions appear to the living to coax them to fix some error in their burial clothing. The legend cycle emphasizes the place of the family in caring for their dead, the significance of these rituals, and, of course, the continuing connections between the living and the dead, while simultaneously reinforcing the expectation for Latter-day Saints to always wear the garment under their secular clothing. Historically, some have viewed the practice of wearing the garment as onerous and altered their garments for purposes of comfort or fashion. The legend of the naked dead assures Latter-day Saints that there is purpose in this tradition that transcends even death.

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