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1907 Chicago Funeral Card

For Funeral Card Friday, let’s look at
a 1907 Chicago funeral card.

1907 Chicago funeral cardI’ve been sleuthing these interesting cards lately and what better day to talk about this than Funeral Card Friday, using the example of my great-grandfather’s 1907 Chicago funeral card.

Janice Webster Brown of the Cow Hampshire blog was wondering a while ago if funeral cards were only used by Catholics. Eileen Souza of Old Bones Genealogy posts regularly about funeral cards and confirms that they were and are used by Protestants as well.

I have several Protestant examples from family members, but the most interesting ones (to me) are the U.S. ones from the Victorian era, printed on 4 14 by ​6 12 heavy card stock. This is the same size as cabinet photographs that became popular in the 1880s. So I suspect enterprising local photographers entered the funeral trade by offering these, using the same card stock already available for studio portraits.

These sturdy cards were designed to be kept, placed in albums or stored with standard Victorian mourning accoutrements such as locks of hair or buttons from clothing. Examples of Victorian funeral cards abound, especially on Pinterest. Some lucky folks even have photographs on family funeral cards from this era (right).

1907 Chicago funeral cardWhile Hans Loe‘s 1907 Chicago funeral card (left) it doesn’t have the detail of his death certificate, it is a wonderful example of the (slightly-post) Victorian funeral card.

On one of my many visits to Mount Olive Cemetery in Chicago, I found the cemetery records showing Hans’s wife Ahne bought the family plot on 24 Aug 1907 for $65.

The salesman at the cemetery let me know that it was an oversized plot and a really really good deal. “A plot like that goes for $10,000 today. And there’s room for you, if you’re related!” That made me wonder exactly how unhealthy I looked in the heat and humidity of Chicago. But I wondered even more how my hard-working immigrant great-grandmother had come up with such a sum in 1907. I hope the cost of the funeral cards was included.

Death certificates and obits aren’t the only post-mortem resources available for your research. Check with your family members to see if any funeral cards have been saved.

And thanks to Janice and Eileen for the prompt that moved Hans’s 1907 Chicago funeral card out of my blog queue where it’s been waiting patiently for several years!

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”

One Comment

  1. Eileen Souza 13 January 2018 at 3:10 AM - Reply

    Great article. Love the old cards. And, thanks for the mention.

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