Cooling board

Cooling board

A cooling board is a board used to present a dead body. In winter months it would be difficult to bury the dead due to the earth being frozen, so the body is wrapped and propped in a barn until the ground thaws out. Referred to in a number of Blues songs, for example by Blind Willie McTell:[1].

Son House also makes a reference to a cooling board in his well known song Death Letter.

"So, I grabbed up my suitcase, and took off down the road. When I got there she was layin on a coolin' board."

Also found in a song by the late Donnie Hathaway:[2]

"'cause the walls of my room was not the walls of my grave my bed was not my cooling board (y'all don't know what i'm talkin' 'bout)"

Benjamin B. French witnessed Abraham Lincoln's remains, after transfer from the Peterson House to the White House, being "taken from the box in which they were enclosed, all limp and warm, and laid upon the floor, and then stretched upon the cooling board."[1]


  1. ^ Marling (2008) Ice: Great Moments in the History of Hard, Cold Water ISBN 978-0873516280. Minnesota Historical Society, p. 62.