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Norwegian Ancestors? Try the Pedersen Funeral Home Records

Recently a client asked for help locating death information for members of a Norwegian family and made me think of the John M. Pedersen & Sons Funeral Home records that are available on Family History Library microfilm. If you have Norwegian ancestors who died in Chicago between 1899 and 1972, you might want to check these out.

Last night I took a look at the first few items on film 1672191 which covers part of 1913 through part of 1926. The first thing I noticed was that the volumes were indexed and the index included addresses, something that might be helpful when researching a family with a common surname. The handwriting was clear and it was easy to jot down page numbers of interest.

The volume I looked at was organized chronologically, one page, one person, and the page numbers were easy to read. The entries included the usual information about the deceased--things like name, death date, parents, birth date, and address--but they also included specific burial information including information about the service (location, time, officiating clergyman) and the burial (casket size and maker, method of travel to the cemetery, and expenses). If an obituary was published, the name of the paper was given. To get a better feel for what these records are like, take a look at the iPhone photo examples below.

So, why would you want to consult these records?

1) To learn if and where an obituary was published.

2) To obtain information about deaths after 1947 without ordering $15 death certificates.

3) To gather details about a burial.

4) To search for a Norwegian death when you can't find the name in a death index.

As I write this, I'm wondering if the funeral home records before 1910 would provide any information than the Chicago death certificates did during that time--spouse or parents, for example. I'll check the next time I'm at the Family History Center.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _


I checked the volumes beginning with 1899 and similar to the early death certificates, the register didn't provide a place for parent names.

But, the register that begins with an August 1903 entry does include space to record that information. Most times parent names are left blank but a few are recorded. In the examples below, Violet Carlson's parents aren't listed on the death certificate but her father's name is given in the Pedersen register. This would be a valuable piece of information for a researcher trying to piece together a family, especially one with a common surname.

So, if you find a death certificate at FamilySearch for 1903 forward and if the undertaker is listed as "John M. Pedersen," it would be well worth checking these records.


Anonymous said…
I found out yesterday that all of this funeral homes' historical records were sent to St Olaf College, Northfield, MN. , Archives of Norwegian Heritage Society, phone number 507-786-3229, ask for Jeff. Per a Pedersen Funeral Home in Elmhurst, IL (no connection) the John M Pedersen & Sons Funeral Home was sold in the early 1970's to Mr. Raymond Wayland & then to a Mr. Joe Roberts. After Mr. Roberts passed away, all of the records were considered to be of historical value to Norwegian heritage so the owner's family donated them to St Olaf College.

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