Five College Archives and Manuscript Collections
Home >> Special Collections & University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library >> Undertaker and Home Furnishings Dealer Account Book, 1881
Undertaker and Home Furnishings Dealer Account Book, 1881
1 box, 1 volume
Collection number: MS 171

Abstract:
Owner of business (identity unknown) who served in the Wrentham, Massachusetts-area as a purveyor of home decorating supplies and furnishings and undertaker. Includes goods for sale and services provided (repairing and upholstering furniture, packing bodies in ice, carrying to tomb, grave digging, etc.); forms of payment (cash, exchange of goods such as soap, eggs, tables, and chairs, and exchange of services); and lists of customers, including City Mills Felting Company, A.H. Morse, J.A. Guild, Joseph Hutchingson, Charles Scott, and Foster Smith.

Terms of Access and Use:

The collection is open for research.

Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The owner of the business recorded in this account book served the needs of Wrentham, Massachusetts-area families from the cradle to the grave, as both a purveyor of home decorating supplies and furnishings (including cradles) and an undertaker.

The owner's identity remains uncertain. The Massachusetts Register and Business Directory for 1878 lists both Henry Bemis and G.O. Fuller as undertakers in Franklin (formerly part of Wrentham) but not as dealers in home decoration supplies or furnishings, which in the account book seems to be the greater focus of the business. There are no undertakers listed for Wrentham. Additional research into Wrentham's town history did not yield further possible identities.

Most of the goods sold were rolls of paper (probably wallpaper) and borders by the yard, along with carpeting and painting supplies. Among furnishings sold were bedsteads, spring beds, hair mattresses, pillows, chairs, looking glasses, plates and cups, sinks, lamps, and brooms. The company also repaired and upholstered furniture.

Most accounts were settled by cash; occasionally goods were exchanged (soap, eggs, berries, tables, and chairs) or services were accepted (hair cutting, work). Major customers were City Mills Felting Company, A.H. Morse, J.A. Guild, Joseph Hutchingson, Charles Scott, and Foster Smith.

Of great interest are the accounts for undertaking services performed sometimes for the town and at other times for individuals. To be found among these accounts are the charges for a casket, box, shroud, pillow, packing in ice, laying out, flowers, wreath, hearse, carrying to tomb, removing from tomb to graveyard, and grave digging.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

Cite as: Undertaker and Home Furnishings Dealer Account Book (MS 171). Special Collections and University Archives, W.E.B. Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

History of the Collection

Acquired from Charles Apfelbaum, 1987

Processing Information

Processed by Linda Seidman, August 1987.


Additional Information
Contact Information
Special Collections and University Archives
W.E.B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9275

Phone: (413) 545-2780
Fax: (413) 577-1399
Language
English.