How long do funeral homes keep records?

There is no set time that funeral homes keeps records, although it appears most keep them, at least, for as long as they are in business. Some funeral homes have remained in business for generations and, if sold, old records typically pass on to the new owners. If a funeral home simply closes its doors and goes out of business, some may choose to donate their records to a local genealogical or historical society, and some may retained by the family. One researcher reported tracking down the records of a funeral home in which the owners had parted company, eventually finding them stored in a cupboard behind some food, in the upstairs apartment of a combined funeral home/lawn mower repair shop (see the article, "The Long and Winding Road," listed below). While this was an unusual finding, it does suggest funeral home records may be perceived as having intrinsic value and not indiscriminately discarded. Most death certificates indicate the name of the funeral home handling funeral arrangements, as do newspaper death notices and possibly obituaries. Local area histories, city and/or business directories, genealogy and historical societies are good sources for help in identify what funeral homes existed in an area at a particular time period. Many old funeral home records have been microfilmed and may be found through the LDS Family History Library of one of its local Family History Centers.

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