California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1835-1931 .

Record Description

This set is a collection of various records maintained by several San Francisco funeral homes, including

  • N. Gray and Co., (records of the Burlingame and San Francisco branches)
  • Halsted and Co. Undertakers
  • H.F. Suhr & Co.
  • Godeau Funeral Service, (branches in San Francisco and Stockton)
  • George H. Clark Funeral Home (Sacramento)
  • Clark & Booth Funeral Directors (Sacramento)
  • Kremple & Halsted-Undertakers
  • W.P. Peterson & Co.
  • H.W. Gantner (Gantner Bros.)

Several different types of records were created. The collection includes records from 1835 to 1985.

For a list of records by localities and dates currently published in this collection, select the Browse.

Record Content

Information found in most of these records are:

  • Name of the deceased
  • Age of deceased
  • Date of death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Name of physician

How to Use the Records

To begin your search it is helpful to know

  • Name of the deceased
  • Other identifying information such as death date or age

Search the Collection

To search the collection by name fill in your ancestor’s name in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about those in the list to what you already know about your own ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person.

If you did not find the person you were looking for, you may need to search the collection image by image.
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒Select the "City (County)"
⇒Select the "Year Range"
⇒Select the "Funeral Home"
⇒Select the "Record Type and Volume/Page Range" which will take you to the images

Look at the images one by one. Again you will need to compare the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor.

Be aware that with either search you may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.
  • If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
  • Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.

For tips about searching on-line collections see the on-line video at FamilySearch Search Tips.

Using the Information

When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. Save a copy of the image or transcribe the information. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details. Add this new information to your records of each family. You should also look for leads to other records about your ancestors.

Unable to Find Your Ancestor?

  • Look for variant spellings of the names. You should also look for nicknames and abbreviated names.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby counties.
  • Try alternative search methods such as only filling in the surname search box (or the given name search box) on the landing page leaving the other box empty and then click on search. This should return a list of everyone with that particular name. You could then browse the list for individuals with the same family number.

General Information About These Records

The indexes are arranged alphabetically by surname, grouped by type of record. Some indexes will index the names of the deceased, others will index the persons making the funeral and financial arrangements, and others will index both. Some indexes refer to only the name and page number. Others may also include death and/or burial dates, the age at time of death, birth place, residence, cause of death, grave site, cemetery name, and the persons making funeral and financial arrangements. Some page numbers were incorrectly transcribed when the indexes were created and such records are usually found within a page or two of the page given. The earlier index is more complete than the later index and indexes are often incomplete. Sometimes there are separate indexes for the persons with given names that had Chinese and Japanese burials.

Funeral record books were written on pre-printed forms and were arranged chronologically. Most give the name of the deceased, his age, birth place, death date, burial date, cause of death, burial site, doctor’s or coroner’s name, the person(s) making the funeral/financial arrangements, place of residence, relationship to the deceased, place and time of funeral, clergy’s name and itemized funeral arrangements. Some funeral records also include the physician’s certificate of death, the deceased person’s occupation, religion, marital status, race, parents’ names, and their birth places. Some also include an obituary.

Day books are daily handwritten account books organized chronologically. Information included varies greatly. Day books contain the name of the person making the arrangements, place of residence, the name of the deceased and may contain cause and date of death, age, place of nativity, burial place, doctor or coroner’s name and financial data. Some include obituaries.

Burial books are lists kept chronologically containing the burial date, the name of the deceased, age at death, birthplace, cause of death, burial site, and the undertaker.

Registers of deaths were kept chronologically, listing the name of the deceased, age, birthplace, death date, sex, where interred, plot description, cause of death, physician or entity making the death certificate, place of death, and remarks.

Records were created by funeral homes to record financial transactions and keep a record of their business activities. Information pertaining to death is probably fairly reliable, including cause and date of death, place of residence, and name of attending physician. Other information is dependent upon the reliability of the informant.

Related Websites

San Francisco Cemeteries

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"California, San Francisco Area Funeral Home Records, 1835-1931," index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed March 17, 2011). Edward C. Smith, 3 March 1856; citing Funeral Home Records, digital folder number 4,177,093; San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco History and Archive Center, San Francisco, California.</gallery>