Funeral cards, or prayer cards, as they are sometimes called, each hold the story of a person’s life. The purpose of the card is to provide a summary of the life of the deceased. For genealogists, a funeral card is a valuable source of information. There are plenty of websites where a genealogist can go to locate funeral cards.
I still have a funeral card from the funeral services of each of my grandmothers, and also one from the funeral of my aunt. I cannot explain exactly why I decided to hang onto these funeral cards for so many years, other than to say that they are very important to me. I have included the funeral cards into my scrapbook, along with a copy of a reading I did at the funeral of my grandmother.
All funeral cards provide information that can really help a genealogist with his or her research. It lists the first, middle, and surname of the deceased. Some may include the maiden name as well, if the person who the card is for was a married woman. A funeral card lists the person’s birthday, as well as the date of death.
Sometimes, you can find the name of the funeral home, and the name of the officiating priest or pastor on the card. This could be useful if you are planning on looking up documents in a church archive. Occasionally, a funeral card will include a photo of the person, which could make it easier for a genealogist to identify that ancestor in other family photos.
In addition to being informational, many funeral cards are small works of art. There may be a decorative border, or the font may be flowery. If there isn’t a photo of the deceased appearing on the card, there may be an image of a drawing or painting of a religious nature. It might show an angel, a saint, or a story from the bible. You may find a prayer, printed in nicely spaced text, that was of especial importance to that person. It might be the artistic qualities of funeral cards that are the reason why people like to look at them.
There is a blog called “Funeral Cards & Genealogy” where you can find many blog entries that show a funeral card, along with a brief description of where it came from, and other notable details. To find more blogs like this, google the phrase “Funeral Card Friday”. It seems like this is a theme that a lot of genealogy blogs use.
Image by k. steudel on Flickr