History of Funeral Homes in America
The history of Youngtown, AZ funeral homes begins in the mid-1850s. Before then, people died at home and their bodies were laid out in the family’s front room – the parlor – until it was time for the body to be buried. This usually happened within 24 to 48 hours, so there was no need to preserve the body for a delayed burial. This American tradition of hosting funerals in the family parlor is the genesis of the term “funeral parlor.”
In more wealthy homes, a false (death) door was place off the parlor. It led outside to remove a deceased family member. It was deemed improper to take a body through the front door – where the living entered and left the home – as was taking the body out feet first.
Although embalming was widely practiced by the militaries during the Civil War, it was not common among the general population. However, when President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, government officials decided, because of his popularity – except, of course in the southern states – among the people, to take his body on a national funeral procession. Because the procession would take several weeks to complete, President Lincoln’s body was embalmed to preserve it.
When Americans found out about President Lincoln’s embalming, they decided to adopt it for their own personal burials. As embalming the deceased became commonplace, funeral traditions moved outside of the home. Since bodies could be easily transported and displayed and embalming allowed more time between death and burial, funerals could be held later so more people would be able to attend. With more people in attendance, it was naturally easier to hold funeral services in a neutral place.
Family funeral businesses sprang up in communities across the United States. Many of these families were already in woodworking businesses, building furniture and coffins on request, so it was a natural transition for them to expand into full-service funeral homes. They became known as undertakers, because they “undertook” the responsibility for all the funeral arrangements.
In the early 20th century, the funeral home business expanded beyond family-owned and operated funeral homes. Because the Industrial Revolution had created a more mobile populated, the need for funeral homes in more locations arose.
With the funeral home business expansion, the need to formalize training for funeral directors, creating standardized techniques and business models to provide the best service to customers also emerged. The Nation Funeral Directors Association was formed around this same time to help clients view its members as qualified professionals.
By this time, many aspects of the funeral business were specialized industries, including coffin manufacturing, florist shops, and life insurance agencies, which helped make modern funeral homes. The funeral home industry in the United States grew 100% between 1865 and 1920, with almost 25,000 funeral homes established in the country.
Like many other American institutions, funeral homes had their roots in Christianity. As time passed during the 20th century and new immigrant cultures and religions began to blend with American culture, funeral traditions began to change and envelop some of or adapt to the customs of the United States’ newest citizens. Therefore, funeral homes began offer services that were tailored to those needs, including those of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of Youngtown, AZ funeral homes, our empathetic and knowledgeable staff at Simply Cremation & Funeral Arrangements is happy to help. You can visit our funeral home at 16952 W. Bell Rd., #303, Surprise, AZ, 85374, or you can call us today at (623) 975-9393.