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Since last winter went so swimmingly, let's try it again! TFS has very graciously opened her home in the west San Fernando Valley to me again. This time her daughter AS (and dog and cat) are there too. Two women + two dogs + two cats = not my usual solitary winter again. Huzzah!
Place name links like Los Angeles, CA go to Wikipedia. Place name links like Los Angeles use a local tourism or government website.
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2014.04.13 National Museum of Funeral History



casket shroud
    In a non-descript building in north Houston, TX the National Museum of Funeral History houses the country's largest collection of funeral service artifacts.    

view from

the entrance
We could only make one stop in Houston, and once I saw this place listed it was a natural choice, part of our quirky-museum wanderings.

The museum was low-lit, taxing my cheap pocket camera. I've pushed some pictures when they were really dark, but left most as-is to save a lot of work and keep my image file sizes small. This museum shows signs of needing more space - some similar items are scattered around the place. So unlike my usual museum order based on how we walked through, this one has been ordered more by the topics represented.

Hearses: Horse-Drawn


1832 Horse Drawn Hearse

1880 Rockfalls Hearse

1888 Kimball Brougham ("widow's coach")

sleigh hearses


Hearse, late 1800s

1900 Children's White Hearse (Quebec)


1850 German Hearse

1860 German Hearse

History of the Restoration of the Funeral Carriage of King of France Louis the 18th

Hearses: Motorized

1916 Buick Sayers & Scovill Hearse

oak hand-carved to resemble drapery

two levels for flowers and casket

1916 Packard Funeral Bus

the only surviving vehicle of its kind

1921 Rockfalls Hearse


1924 Ford Model TT Hoover Hearse

mahogany hand-carved to resemble drapery and columns

1926 Sayers & Scovill (S&S) Hearse


1929 Studebaker - Superior Hearse

1935 Studebaker Dictator Superior Hearse

1938 Henney-Packard Flower Car



1939 Superior - LaSalle Mount Claire Hearse


1940 LaSalle Touring Sedan

1951 Superior - Cadillac Laundaulet Hearse

1972 Japanese Ceremonial Hearse
A modified 1972 Toyota Crown Station Wagon, with music system and speakers mounted on the outside to play music during the funeral procession. The casket is carried on the roof.


1973 Mercedes Hearse

Used in the funeral of Princess Grace of Monaco



Old Casket Shop

1925 Glass Casket


The Money Casket (1970s)

Cruciform Casket (early 1900s)

Casket for Three (1930s)
Fantasy Coffins of Kane Quaye

Kane Quaye (1922-1992) was a Ghanain carpenter turned master coffin builder who made a reputation for elaborate and representative coffins.



Artifacts and Ephemera

Early Funeral Home Advertising Items

$105.75 for a 1899 funeral


1926 advertisement in "The Casket and Sunnyside"



1949 advertisement for Batesville "Monoseal" casket

Marcsellus Casket Company Salesman Sample (1920-35)

Buffalo Burial Vault Works brochures
History of Embalming



Civil War practices

Early Embalming (circa 1920s)

Icebox Containers, Adult and Youth Coffins
From the 1850s there was an emerging practice to encase the deceased in a receptacle whose claim to public acceptability lay in the fact that it was beautiful and thus suitable for funerals. Five major themes in fulfilling the proper function of the burial receptacle were utility, status indication, preservation of the body, protection, and aesthetic representation.

Prior to the contemporary principle of chemical embalming, undertakers employed various devices for preserving the deceased by application of ice. Surrounding the deceased with ice in a traditionally-designed coffin was objectionable for a number of obvious reasons. New designs emplying a cooling board along with a compartment for ice storage below the deceased because widespread as an acceptable method of temporary preservation. The Ice-box coffin was used for over two decades until the practice of embalming by injection became standard procedure.

The late 1920s and early 1930s ushered in the modern era of funeral home service to families. A gradual shift from in-home embalming and funeral services led to the expanded conveniences of the "complete" funeral home.

Wicker "first call" basket

Embalming Tools

Embalming Machines (early 1900s)

Table with Eckels Gravitation Injectors

Funeral Home parlour

Famous People

Michael Jackson | Elizabeth Taylor

Suspense and Thrillers

Wild Wild West

Gone Too Soon

Frank Sinatra

Sally K. Ride | Neil A. Armstrong






Buck Owens
Celebrating the Lives and Deaths of the Popes




(Skull Cap)



Election of a Pope

Papal Vestments

Rite of Papal Death



Preparation for a Papal Funeral

Funeral Mass


John Paul II

Papal Coffins

Papal Coffin

Rite of Interment

1982 Range Rover Popemobile

Mexican Day of the Dead


    Tucked in the back of the museum, an odd little diorama of a Mexican household with death knocking at the door. It sparked a completely irreverent cackle from TFS.


(not the real) Lincoln

Lincoln Funeral

Lyndon Baines Johnson
John F. Kennedy

Harry S. Truman pins

Presidential Funeral Hearse
Ronald W. Reagan
Gerald R. Ford
An odd yet entertaining and informative couple hours. There's a gift shop too, with death-related items like a "The Cremator" BBQ apron, t-shirts with "Graduate of Undertaker University", and items with the museum's branding. I got a can coozie.

    Not related to the museum, except for being deceased, this giant statue of Sam Houston along the I-45 about an hour north of Houston. At 67 feet (20.4 meters) tall it can't be missed from the road.
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To San Antonio Through Texas Hill Country

     Valley    National Museum of Funeral History   
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Document ENR/NAUW/0.2:2014.04.25    A branch of The BRIDGE Tree