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Using Funeral and Burial Records for Research and Genealogy


You have your ancestors’ death certificates and maybe you’ve found where they are buried. But did you ever think about looking for an undertaker’s record?  

At first, undertakers were woodworkers and their primary task was to make the coffin. If they had a horse and cart, they may have offered to get the body to the church. But gradually, as fewer people were dying at home and families were more dispersed, an undertaker’s role became key to organising the entire funeral. It’s possible that there are records on the family who attended, readings or inscriptions, memorial cards, and many other details.  

 In this one-hour talk, Brian Parsons looks at the information held in the largely untapped resource of funeral directing records. 


About the speaker: Brian Parsons has worked in the funeral industry in London since 1982. After working for JH Kenyon as a funeral director and embalmer he embarked upon a BA degree in Business Studies at the University of Westminster followed by a PhD which explored change in the British funeral industry during the twentieth century.  

In 1997 he returned to SCI (Dignity) as a training consultant until becoming editor in 2005 and then features editor of the Funeral Service Journal. He now works freelance providing a training, consultancy and research service under the banner of Funeral Service Training (London).  Brian has lectured widely has a long standing interest in funeral service education. He became a BIFD registered tutor in 1991, was a member of their Education Committee (in charge of tutor training) and also gained a certificate in teaching adults from the University of London.  

Since 2010 he has contributed towards the revision of the National Association of Funeral Directors’ qualifications and is one of their accredited tutors. He is an Associate Member of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. 

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