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Showing posts from January, 2016

Funeral Cards

A recent discovery among old family papers has inspired this week's thoughts on how the ephemera of death and mourning, such as funeral cards, can help with family history research.

Last week, my father was looking through some old documents belonging to my grandmother (and her mother before her) when he came across an envelope of 12 medium-sized cards dating from 1881 to 1941. On closer examination, he realized they were memorial cards for some of our distant relatives.

More commonly known as "funeral cards", memorial cards are still used today but became popular in the late 19th century. In Ireland, they are sometimes referred to as "mortuary cards" or "remembrance cards". At the time of bereavement, mourners would send the cards to distant family members, friends and neighbours announcing the death and giving details of the funeral. The cards would then be kept in remembrance of the deceased.

On the left side of each folded black-rimmed card i…