I attended a family funeral today and such occasions prompt thoughts about others “no longer with us”.
In the eulogy we heard about the life of the deceased as well as how they touched the lives of those present. The wake afterwards prompted lots of “do you remember” stories. We looked at old photos and shared recent family photos. We promised to get together before the occasion is another funeral.
Somehow a funeral or wake doesn’t seem the occasion to be taking notes. (I will however be recording tonight what I remember that I learned today.)
The occasion set me thinking about records associated with deaths. Not only death certificates or inquests, but also newspaper announcements of deaths and funerals, as well as obituaries and memorials, monumental inscriptions and cemetery records.
Undertakers / Funeral Directors records can be a source of information not often tapped by family historians. Newspaper death and funeral notices often name the undertaker, and large libraries and genealogy societies often hold Undertakers Records amongst their collections.
Last year I was able to spend some time in the Family Records Centre of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. That society has a wonderful collection of Undertakers Records (which can be borrowed by members). This was one entry I recorded in my notebook from the records of C.H. Barker Ltd, Funeral Directors, Onehunga, Auckland, funeral records 1943-1979.
WARD, James Louis d 9-Apr-1947. Residence Milford. Age 79. Mangere Cemetery. Father: James WARD, Mother: Louisa TOOP, Spouse: Harriett RICHES
Another entry I recorded that day was from a 1999 funeral – too recent for me to be allowed to obtain a death certificate.
Registering a death in New Zealand (and in many other places, including Australia) involves filling out forms including about the parents and birth of the deceased. Undertakers books are a source of such information that is often overlooked by genealogists.
So tonight I am sitting thinking about family members “no longer with us”.