Friday, August 26, 2016

Obituaries and Funeral Cards

Lately, I have been going through a lot of obituaries and funeral cards that my dad has collected over the years and generously gave to me to add to my collection.  So much information!  I find myself going over them with a fine tooth comb just to make sure I have recorded all of the details.  It still amazes me how one little fact can lead to so many questions, which leads to more discoveries and more questions.  Birth dates, death dates, next of kin, employment, cause of death, date and locations of funeral and interment....I could go on forever.  These are the discoveries I live for.  (It sounds kind of funny saying that about someone's obituary, but it's true!)

It's one thing reading over an obituary of someone I knew pretty well, but so fascinating to me going over one of a relative that I saw very infrequently.  I have gotten a better picture of who these people were and have put a lot of faces with names and vice versa.  What a gift!

All of this got me questioning the roots of obituaries and funeral cards...just because that is how my mind works.  I never knew obituary is from the Latin word obit, which means death.  It's such a great bit of information to have.  Published death notices have been using the word obituary since the 18th century.  This is pretty encouraging.  How awesome would it be to find an obituary of an ancestor that died in the 1700s?  I know now this is one of my goals.

I have a wonderful collection of funeral cards.  It's a great source for birth and death dates.  Some of the ones I have been going over lately are bigger and have more information on them, like location of the funeral and interment.  Some even have the officiating clergy.  All of those tidbits of information get me excited!

My advice to everyone is to clip from the newspaper (or print from the Internet) all those obituaries and keep all those funeral cards.  They are filled with invaluable information, as well as being a sentimental memento.

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