Saturday, 6 August 2011

Funeral Home Records: often overlooked research resources

When you are looking for your ancestor, don’t stop at the Obit or the Monumental Inscription. Call or write to the Cemetery and ask who purchased the plot (or lair),  what address was given for the person who purchased the plot and whether any other family members are buried in the same plot. The Cemetery office will also tell you the names of any other people with the same surname who are buried at the cemetery. 
While you are at it, contact the funeral home listed in the Obit. Funeral homes keep detailed records about the individuals that they care for. This can be a valuable resource. The funeral home will have a copy of the “funeral card” or the card given to those who attend the service, a copy of the death record they issued for the family and information on the next of kin. If an autopsy was performed, the funeral home can supply you with the information for the name and address of the coroner as well, which will allow you to contact that resource for detailed information on the cause of death and the details surrounding the death.  The funeral home can also provide you with the name of the deceased’s family physician, the name of the insurance company, the name of the clergy that performed the service and oftimes they can also provide you with information about where to find a will for the deceased.

So, don’t be shy. Start writing letters requesting the information you are looking for on your ancestor which will provide you with the details you need to help  you “flesh out” who your ancestor really was. Always include the offer of paying for photocopying and mailing of the information (most of these resources will not charge for this information) and include an e-mail address so that if possible, the records can be scanned and sent to you electronically, or at the very least, any outstanding questions that the funeral home, cemetery or coroner may have can be clarified before they send out the final reports to you.
Happy searching!!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the encouragement to do this. I've thought about it before but never moved forward with the idea. I think I will.