When I became interested in genealogy at the age of 11, one of the first things I noticed was how often genealogists, of necessity, come into contact with death and burial mementos and artifacts. To answer my many questions about our family history, both of my grandmothers referred to their keepsake boxes, which were filled with newspaper clippings of death notices, funeral cards, and a few funeral photographs. Among these keepsakes of death, I found a wealth of history.
As I continued on my genealogy journey, I also discovered a significant interest in antiques and I found myself unable to pass up an antique store or flea market. In these establishments, I frequently buy funeral-related items that have found their way onto the market. Having amassed a large collection of this memorabilia over the years, I thought I’d share some of my gems for others who may have a common interest.
I bought this snapshot at the Salvation Army Store in my hometown of Pampa, Texas in 1988. It cost twenty-five cents and the clerk made a face that clearly indicated how strange she thought I was for buying it. Oh well, she’s not the first person in my hometown that I’ve rubbed the wrong way!
This is Mrs. Gruben of Spur, Texas about 1940 standing next to her husband’s casket, which was placed in front of the general store they owned - an interesting intersection of amateur photography, commercialism, and death in small town Texas.
© 2009, copyright Stephen Mills