Thursday, December 6, 2012

The pot of gold in Funeral Home records .

                   Funeral Home cardLast week, I read an article about finding records in a funeral home at Cassie Sanford's blog  : Yopp Funeral Home .The week before, I attended a local genealogical society meeting where the older members talked about the laws (in my particular city) about the preservation of funeral home records. I was taking notes furiously as the 90-year-old-plus-some-years members cited where some of the local funeral records were stored. No one has actually categorized where all the records are located so obviously, this is another genealogical project to be done in our community. Most people do not know that when funeral homes close or merge, there are state laws that require the new owners to keep the records. However, many states do not enforce or follow it up. Many funeral homes forget to transfer them over or lose them in transfer. This is a form of record preservation that should be stepped up, especially as the funeral homes go out of business .
Unlike records of a church or the civil records of the locality, funeral homes are a business, and like all businesses, subject to the whims and whereabouts and particular methodology of their owners. Luckily, many mortuary offices stayed in many generations of a family and hopefully, kept up sound archival treatment of their records. I really enjoyed reading in Cassie's blog that someone had the sense to donate funeral home records to her library so she could access them.

Today, Valerie Beaudrault reported in the THE WEEKLY GENEALOGIST [1], that two funeral homes had their records online .One in Tennessee ; the other in Pennsylvania. I think this is a step in the right direction as many people in our society prefer no church involvement in their death preparations so the funeral home could hold a net of genealogical information that might, otherwise, slip away.   

My Toledo, Ohio family was a melting pot of religious inclinations so by the time my Hungarian immigrant grandparents died, their children forsake any institutionalized religion and preferred the " funeral home " for the final goodbyes .Like Cassie, I was lucky that the funeral home photocopied everything from their files of my family. There were clippings of the obituaries taped on to index cards. On my great - grandmother's index card, there was an itemization of the funeral bill listing the accouterments on the deceased, the amount of flowers, even down to their colors and the endearing ribbons adorning strips with the words  " Sister " or " Mother ". There was a mention of the organist and the play set of the hymns. On my grandfather's funeral home card, they listed his social security number and with those numbers, I  was eventually able to secure a copy of his Social Security application which documented his place of birth in Hungary.
[1]"^top"Spotlight: Funeral Home Records — Tennessee and Pennsylvania.Valerie Beaudrault.December 5 , 2012•Vol. 15, No. 49 Whole #612.


  1. Welcome to GeneaBloggers! I was looking at a death certificate last night and looked up the funeral home up on the internet. It is still there. I'm hoping to find more information from them.

  2. Glad to see your latest project! I found out about your newest blog on the GeneaBloggers announcement today.

    You are so right about the material that can be found through funeral homes. Our local genealogical society is actually producing a book by transcribing records from one particular funeral home which has been in business since the 1920s. There is so much more information in some of their files--way more than the usual death certificate information. It can be a real treasure trove of personal and family details--if only you can get your hands on it!

  3. Welcome to Geneabloggers. I've used funeral home records on occasion and they are a great resource.

    Regards, Jim
    Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  4. So far i havenot had the luck you have had with funeral homes...but I keep trying :-)
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)