Funeral Cards

An Under-Utilized Resource in Genealogy

Nora Schmidt Widman

Funeral Cards, Mourning Cards, Memorial Cards – whatever you call them – can be a helpful resource for your genealogy research. These cards are an often overlooked source of birth and death information for our ancestors.

The history of funeral cards started in the Victorian Era. The funeral cards were used in a similar way as the calling cards of the day. Over time, the funeral card became a keep sake much like keeping a copy of an obituary, wedding invitation, etc. The cards often feature a picture or photograph on one side, and death and burial information on the other.

Mary Rehe Schalk Weberphal

My great grandparents and grandparents had a fair sized collection of these funeral cards. The majority of the cards in my collection are from the 1940s to the 1970s. The information on the cards varies somewhat, but many include birth dates, death dates, burial dates, church names, and funeral home information. A few of the cards include photographs of the deceased.

Most of the names in the collection are family members that I recognize, but there are a few of people that I don’t know. Similar to finding photographs of unknown relatives, these mystery names can lead to new branches of ancestors, or indicate relationships that would otherwise have never been known.

William Joseph Schalk

There is an informative article from Family Search that can be found here.

 Genealogy Today has a searchable index of funeral cards that can be accessed here.

Do you have any funeral cards in your genealogy collection? Hopefully they will help you fill in some blanks in your tree!

5 thoughts on “Funeral Cards

      1. I think I might have maybe one of these cards. Maybe. And my mom’s family, where most of my treasures are from, were Protestant. So I wondered if that was why.

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      2. I think you are right. Digging deeper, I see it is primarily attached to Catholicism. I have a decent sized collection of these cards and they are from 1 branch of my tree. The families are Catholic. Great catch! I never noticed that before!

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