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Mortuary History Early American Funeral Undertaking History of the American funeral Diretor Matt Kendall

English Undertakers did not:

transplant to america

Prevention of English Undertakers Coming to America:

due to less social class distinction

Blanche White(1768):

first advertising undertaker in america

Mostly Early American Undertakers:

were tradesman undertakers:
1)upholsterers 2)cabinet makers 3)liverymen 4)nurses or midwives 5)sexton's

Early Cabinet Makers:

built coffins & were not trianed by english U.T.'s

Michael Jenkins(Baltimore, 1799)

1st cabinet maker to advertise as undertaker/cabinet maker

Jacob Knorr(Germantown, PA, 1761-1804):

oldest family undertaking firm still in america (started as cabinet maker)

Early 19th Century combo-business:

cabinet making/undertaking combo

Andrew Gardner(Vincennes, IN, 1816)


Early 19th Century Cabinet-makers/Undertakers:

began offering other services

Andrew Oakes(Brooklyn, NY):

offered cabinet-making, undertakin, coroner services

Furnishing Undertakers:

offered funeral parapernalia for rent to to other undertakers

Furnishing Undertakers Encouraged More People:

to become tradesman undertakers:
1)didn't need to own paraphenalia
2)allowed other tradesmen to begin undertaking
3)began offering more personal services

Keepers of Hacks & Carriages:


Early 19th Century increased:

demand for funeral coaches:
1)people had more wealth
2)procession distances became longer

Samuel Bleigh & Alexander Thorpe(Boston, MA, 1750):

offered coaches & black horses for funerals

Performers of Personal Services:

"laying out the dead"

Originally, Dead Were Laid Out by:

friends & family

1700's nurses & Midwives:

began laying out the dead

18th Century, Nurses & Midwives Advertised:

as "layers of the dead"

19th Century, Nurses & Midwives became:

less involved w/ funeral tasks

Laying Out the Dead, CCPBB:

Crossed hands on the chest
Closed eyes with penny
Plugged orifices
Body washed & dressed
Body chested(put in coffin)

Sexton's as Undertakers:

1)churchyard burial still common in amer. & england
2)still minor church offical
3)often became furnishing undertakers

Roles of Municipal Officers

1)inviter to funerals-door to door inviting people
2)town undertaker-handled unclaimed bodies
3)coroner-ofter an undertaker

First Half of 19th Century brought:

1)consolidation of numerous funeral tasks together
2)recognized occupation of funeral undertakers &or undertakers

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