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Presentation on theme: "EARLY AMERICAN FUNERAL UNDERTAKING"— Presentation transcript:


2 The Birth of American Funeral Directing
Funeral Directing as an occupation was born in America during the 19th century. Tradesman Undertakers: From 1685 we remember undertaking has been an occupation involving: Furnishing of the paraphernalia of morning. Conducting funerals following other feudal societies. Few persons dedicated solely to the trade.

3 Limitations of the term “funeral directing”
Provisions of a set of tasks for the care and disposal of the dead. A personal service which operates as a business enterprises.

4 The Birth of American Funeral Directing
Now as we move to the Settlers of the Plains: Social and class distinctions were not likely to be introduced (there was no social status). The Colonies worked against transplanting the “Dismal Trader” of England to the Americas.

5 The Tradesman Undertaker
Introduction of many craftsman into the field of undertaking. Importance increased as cities grew and material resources of the townspeople increased.

6 The Birth of American Funeral Directing
Remember again from last time “undertakers” were not called undertakers except as underwriters of commercial business ventures. The first person in the middle of the 18th century that advertised as an “undertaker,” that we now know surprisingly enough was….. You guessed it…….A woman!!!!!

7 The Birth Of American Funeral Directing
Blanche White~ Advertised in the New Your Journal of General Advertisers on January 7, 1768 “Blanche White, Upholsterer and Undertaker, from London, on the New-Dock, next door but one to Alderman Livingston’s; Makes all kinds of Upholstery Work, in the newest Fashions and on the most reasonable Terms; Likewise all kinds of Field Equipage, Drums, Etc. Funerals furnishe’d with all things necessary and proper Attendance as in England.”

8 The Birth of American Funeral Directing
English influence had made it to Canada as well~ In 1820 a Montreal directory of Merchant, Traders and Housekeepers listed: Mrs. Benjamin Birch, Funeral Undertaker, 20 Campeau Str. Forster & Fry Upholsters & Undertakers, Cabinet Makers, Furniture Show Rooms. Mrs. Birch was also listed as a shoemaker at the same address.

9 In the Colonial period, Cabinet-making was often found with Upholstering, and undertaking was usually added to the business. It was more often that the Cabinet-makers, chair makers, etc., were only suppliers of coffins. Over time their functions moved from providing material goods (coffins, etc.) to including and providing non-material personal services.

10 Remember the spirit of industry…
They were few in the early years, but with no clear cut or uniform church or state regulation over funerals, they were provided opportunity for development of these skills as added specialties to the current occupation… Remember the spirit of industry… Everyone was creating professions.

11 Coffin & Cabinet Making
Michael Jenkins- A well known furniture maker in Baltimore. He was one of the first to combine “coffin making” with cabinet making. He was later appointed coroner in 1799 and then became an undertaker. Shortly after he extended his activities to include “undertaking”.

12 Coffin & Cabinet Making
Jacob Knorr- A German Quaker set up a 2 story joiner’s shop in Germantown, PA. In addition to his lumber yard he advertised that he made “coffins on demand.” Died in 1804 Children sold the business Passed down from generation to generation The coffin-shop-turned-undertaking-turned-funeral directing establishment has existed now for over 194 years. There are very few business with such long pedigrees

13 Coffin & Cabinet Making
Your book goes to great lengths to list firms that make this point, but in no way does it exhaust the list of early cabinet-making and furniture business firms that began undertaking early in the 19th century. They have been included specifically to illustrate the fact of persistence of operation. Nearly all of them are still in business today under the name of the original founder.

14 Coffin & Cabinet Making
Thomas Chartres- Advertised in 1829 that besides selling cabinet furniture and making cabinets, “Funerals attended on the shortest notice, and Hacks and Hearse provided. Andrew Oaks- Advertised in a Brooklyn City Directory not only the practice of the various crafts, but…. lost children might safely be left with him until the parents could be found!?!?!?!

15 Coffin & Cabinet Making
The occupational advances made by Sherman Blair show a pattern: 1840-Sherman Blair, Cabinet Maker 1841-Sherman Blair, Cabinet manufacturer 1846-Sherman & R. Blair, Cabinet manufacturer and undertakers. 1853-Blair’s Cabinet Furniture, Upholsters and undertakers.

16 The Furnishings Undertaker
Another tradesman-undertaker. Offered services on occasion at funerals. He provided other undertakers with necessary supplies and paraphernalia. His appearance tool place concurrently with the small combination operator. (cabinet maker, carpenter, sexton & liveryman who only did funerals as a sideline).

17 The Furnishings Undertaker
The small combination operator was not likely to have all the necessary supplies and paraphernalia on hand. Where do you think we get our supplies today?

18 The Furnishings Undertaker
Suppliers Product mix Service Technical support Product effectiveness Pricing Incentives

19 The Furnishings Undertaker
The Furnishing Undertaker served to encourage more people to enter the field…..Why do you think this happened? Newcomers to the industry would not have to lay initial capital for the merchandise and equipment required to start the business.

20 The Furnishings Undertaker
Not only was the field opened wider to new practitioners, but personal service, unhampered by obligations to craft or trade could become a central preoccupation of the Undertaker. What value does personal service have with the Modern Funeral Directors?

21 The Furnishing Undertaker
Personal service became important during the colonial period. Because of increasing distances to the graveside, rental of carriages and buggies became more common. Foot processions became very rare. By the first quarter of the 19th century, the use of carriages and horse drawn hearses began to spread.

22 The Furnishing Undertaker
Horse drawn hearses…

23 The Furnishing Undertaker
Following several decades certain phases in the advertisements became standardized, especially “will attend personally and take proper measure that a decent order be preserved. Pg. 236

24 Something to think about:

25 The Furnishing Undertaker
GARDNER T. SWARTZ Livery Stable Keeper, Undertaker Tomb Proprietor and Dealer in ready-made coffins, of all kinds and at all prices, near the corner of Pine and Dorrance – Street Providence

26 The Furnishing Undertaker
Z. Cotton & Sons Now, if Andrew Oakes could take care of lost children as well as dead bodies, so could Z. Cotton “undertake,” pull teeth, and frame pictures. Pg. 146

27 Earlier Performers of Personal Service
1. Friends and neighbors were the first to come to the aid of the bereaved. 2. Nurses and mid-wives. Nurses and midwives practiced healing arts outside of particular families and cared for the sick in the small communities and in the case of death they extended their personal service to include “laying out of the dead.”

28 Earlier Performers of Personal Service
3. By the end of the 18th century the “Layers our of the Dead” was a specific category of advertising. Although the mid-wife often shared with the nurse many of the tasks involved in burials, by the end of the 18th century, laying out of the dead in larger cities had become a specialty in its own right. Pg. 147 figure 5 & 6

29 Earlier Performers of Personal Service
Despite their early appearance in the emerging occupation of undertaking, women became less conspicuous in such endeavors as the 19th century got well underway Why do you think women started to become less likely to go into the profession? Do you think they have a foothold in the industry today?

30 Religious Functionaries Role of the Church Sexton
Churchyard and church cemetery burial, though not universal, continued until the 19th century to be the major mode of sepulture in America as well as England. Like wise the church caretaker, or sexton has always been associated with churchyard burial and the care of the cemetery.

31 Religious Functionaries Role of the Church Sexton
At the beginning of the 19th century to the conventional “tolling of the bell” and “digging of the grave” and such new undertaking tasks as laying out the body, being “in attendance,” directing the procession, and, later, furnishing undertakers with merchandise and paraphernalia of funerals were taken over by the sextons.

32 Religious Functionaries Role of the Church Sexton
Samuel Winslow- Was first listed as a housewright 1796. Listed as housewright and sexton in 1807. Listed as sexton in 1818. Listed as sexton and undertaker in 1834. In 1843 still as an undertaker, although the general registry indicates he had not given up sexton’s work altogether.

33 Religious Functionaries Role of the Church Sexton
Reverend Stephen Merritt- Began his undertaking in 1846. He was also a cartman, assistant captain of the watch, lighter of the oil lamps, assistant foreman of Mazsppa Engine Co., an assessor, and spent his evenings at the Episcopal Methodist Church as sexton. Undertaking was still found as a sideline or specialty along with many other tasks. Why would they need to do so many other things?

34 Religious Functionaries Role of the Church Sexton
The sextons also controlled the permits to the cemetery. This monopoly on burial to bury in churchyards and church cemeteries had its advantages, this is why there was such a rapid expansion in their numbers in the first half of the 19th Century.

35 Municipal Officers Role
They invited people to funerals. The town undertaker was often a municipal officer. Often the town undertaker would be the town health official or the city registrar which was the person who approved funeral charges. Hollis Chaffin in Rhode Island was one of the town’s official undertakers and surprisingly ran the old peoples’ asylum (nursing home), and kept the city pound.

36 Municipal Officers Role
By the nature of his work the undertaker traditionally has been expected to have the technical skills and knowledge qualifying him for the role of coroner. This specialty has remained in close affinity to the undertakers work for more than a century. What is the difference between the coroner and Medical Examiner?

37 Undertaking Review 1. The Woodworker-
In earliest colonial times made a coffin upon demand, as society and economic opportunity expanded about him, he found that it made economic sense to turn part of his shop into a warehouse of coffin warehouse.

38 Undertaking Review 2. The Sexton-
Found that in addition to tolling the bell and digging or supervising the digging of the grave, he could direct the funeral arrangements and provide materials and equipment which were more and more in general demand.

39 Undertaking Review 3. The Proprietor of Hacks & Coaches-
Found that funerals, in a land were distance was no object, often involved rather extended journeys and the order of the funeral procession could not simply be left to chance or individual discretion. Thus it was a short step from furnishing a hearse or coach for funeral use to the furnishing of other funeral paraphernalia and to assuming a processional directing function

40 Undertaking Review 4. The Midwife & Nurses-
Found that extending her function to include placing the body in a coffin, conducting the funeral ceremonies, organizing the procession and leading the rites found little justification in a male-dominated society. There was only small precedent for female services or trade functions, although female undertakers were no novelty in England.

41 Specific undertaking procedures before 1859
Undertaking had taken on characteristics of a service occupation with a set of tasks and functions organized into a pattern of behavior toward the dead that basically included: 1. Laying out the body 2. Casket or Coffining the body 3. Transport the body to the grave

42 Specific undertaking procedures before 1859
The role of the clergy was important as well. 1. Supplied the funeral sacred ritual. 2. Gave spiritual comfort to bereaved.

43 Specific undertaking procedures before 1859
The 1st half of the 19th Century is therefore crucially important in the evolution of the modern funeral director, because this period witnessed all the basic undertaking functions being gathered and organized under a conventionally recognized name, the “Funeral Undertaker,” or more commonly , the “Undertaker.”

44 Something else to think about:


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