Thursday, September 24, 2009

An Unusual Funeral Card





[This post was written for the October 2009 Edition of the Graveyard Rabbits Carnival.]

I've written before here at Destination: Austin Family about funeral cards and the collection I've amassed over the years. Some of the cards are from the funerals of relatives where I was in attendance but the majority are from funerals which took place way before I was born.

One such example is the funeral card for my 1st cousin twice removed, Matthew McCrickert. Most funeral cards are in color and became popular with the advent of lithography in the late 1800s. They are commonly known as holy cards or funeral prayer cards since there would be a short prayer printed on the reverse and an image of Christ or a saint on the front. I remember finding these used as bookmarks by both my great-grandmother Therese McGinnes Austin and my mother over the years.

In the early days the cards would not be available at the funeral itself, but distributed by the family of the deceased at a later date. Only with modern advances of printing would the cards actually be available at the funeral home. Many of the modern cards in my collection are also laminated.

The card for Matthew McCrickert is unusual in that it is a bi-fold card and contains a small photo of him - the photo taken when he started his military service in the U.S. Army shortly after World War II. Matthew died in a military plane crash at Freehold, New Jersey on June 11, 1946 during a violent thunderstorm.

I'm curious if anyone else has similar funeral cards in their collection? Does anyone know how these were produced? I am assuming that a salesperson contacted the family of the deceased (getting the contact info from the funeral home) and sold them these cards. Any further information that I can add would be appreciated.

Photo: Funeral Card of Matthew McCrickert. Digital photograph. Privately held by Thomas MacEntee, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Chicago, Illinois. 2009.

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

6 comments:

Julie Cahill Tarr said...

This is a really nice find. I don't have any with the person's photo on it, so that's pretty neat in and of itself. Thanks for sharing!

lindalee said...

I have learned something new today from your blog....holy cards versus funeral cards. Until writing this blog, I never gave these a thought. I used them for the information they gave. I have older ones from my family that are also bi-folds made of paper, but no photograph.

Jasia said...

The holy card I have for my yet-to-be-determined relation, Chester Lipa is also a bifold with a picture in it. I don't have any information to share about it except to make the observation that he, like your cousin, was in the military at the time of his death. I wonder if there is some connection there...

Thomas MacEntee said...

Jasia - I was starting to think that these may have been provided by the military as well . . .

Family Curator said...

Thomas, I recently found a similar holy card in a missal belonging to my mother-in-law. I plan to do a bit more research and will keep you posted on any findings.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Lorine at Olive Tree Genealogy has a great post about the difference between Funeral Cards and Memorial Cards.

Funeral cards seem to serve more as an announcement for the funeral whereas what I have in my collection are mostly memorial cards - given out either at the funeral or sent out afterwards. Check out Lorine's post - it is full of good information!