Monday, February 5, 2018

Methodology Monday~Funeral Home Records

Funeral homes became the norm when embalming practices were invented to help with the preservation of the many casualties to be transported back to their homes during the Civil War.
Even before Funeral Homes were in existence a family may have used an undertaker who kept business records. Due to the nature of the record, they contain primary information about the death and burial of an individual. After all, a funeral home record is not created until after someone has died and is usually done very close to the event.
Searching for these valuable documents may help to provide family history information to break through a brick wall.

Source: Shelley-Brunson Funeral Home, (Sumter, South Carolina), "July 1928-May'1933," Sumter Genealogical Society Sumter. South Carolina.
Funeral Home Records May Contain:
  • Name of Deceased
  • Date of Death
  • Cause of Death
  • Name of Spouse
  • Names of Parents
  • Date of Funeral
  • Place of Funeral
  • Date of Burial
  • Place of Burial
  • Employment
  • Church Affiliation
  • Names of other family members
  • Cost of Funeral
  • Name of Person to be Billed
  • Items purchased for burial such as a casket and clothing
  • Plot Number
A copy of the death certificate and receipts of payment for services may be included.

Tips for Finding Funeral Home Records

 Begin with What You Know. 
Most death certificates record the name of the Funeral Home. If you don't have the certificate for the person you are looking for, check those of other family members. Families often obtained services from the same funeral home for several generations.

Locate the Records
If the Funeral Home is known, contact them to ask about the availability of records. Earlier Funeral Homes may have gone out of business. Check with local genealogy societies, historical societies, archives and libraries to see if their records may have been donated to their repositories. Some of these may have been digitized or transcribed and put online.

 Finding Unknown Funeral Homes
Check City Directories for names fo those in your ancestor's community. An internet search for. Again, take advantage of local societies, archives, libraries and historical societies. They often have employees or volunteers who are experts in the area in question and can point you in the right direction.
 Use a map to determine which Funeral Homes may have been close to your ancestor’s home. This is helpful in large communities where there may be several to choose from. Start with the closest and then work your way one at a time to the farthest.

Search the Internet
A simple google search helped to find records for the Funeral Home used by my ancestors. Digitization projects through societies, libraries, and other organizations add more records every day. Funeral Home Records are among them.

 Use Online Data Bases
The U.S. Cemetery and Funeral Home 1846-2015, can be searched on Ancestry.  This collection is a compilation of obituaries and Funeral Home Records from across the country. While not complete with every funeral home, it's worth taking a look.

Source: Shelley-Brunson Funeral Home, (Sumter, South Carolina), "July 1928-May'1933,"p.58, for David Daughrity burial entry.9 June l93l: Sumter Genealogical Society Sumter. South Carolina

Funeral home records have helped me to resolve a conflict about a death date, build families ties and break down brick walls. 

Don't overlook this important record set when researching your family!

Have you used Funeral Home records? What discoveries did you make?

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Helping you climb your family tree,


  1. Great article Cheri. Sometimes a newspaper clipping of the obituary is also included. There are a few Family Search databases available also.

    1. Yes, if we get lucky the obit is there too! Familysearch is another great place to look! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment, Kenneth!