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Archiver > GenMassachusetts > 2005-05 > 1117215519

From: Jay Underwood <>
Subject: Re: [GM-L] Obits style changes (was Siblings in Chicopee)
Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2005 14:41:35 -0300
References: <027f01c562a8$486f2b00$> <002d01c562ca$4c109c40$6401a8c0@KAT> <002701c562cd$0fd3be80$62c843d8@Patricia>

Obituaries have gone through cycles, most notably as newspapers themselves
undergo economic conditions or dramatic social changes, to which they react. You
will probably notice dramatic differences in the style of obituary that was
published after the First World War, then the Influenmza epidemic of the early
When I began my newspaper career it was as an obituary writer, and most of my
work camne when the funeral home did not provide the obituary as part of the
service paid for by the deceased's kin. Since newspapres at that time (late 70s,
Atlantic Canada) published the obituary for free, many felt they could save a
few bucks by not having the undertaker do that service (those obituaries were
normally written according to a company "formula") but send in a sometimes
distraught relative to give me the details.
We had a some basic guidelines about what was included in the obituary, such as
no last messages to the living, and tried to keep the flowery descriptions of
character to a minimum (it's the last nice thing ever said about you!)
Nowadays newspapers in these parts will publish an obituary of between 100-150
woreds at no charge, anything longer will be charged at classified ad rates, and
the person who submits the obit can put in just about whatever they want.
Quite recently an obituary of an Ontario hockey fan in a Toronto newspaper
included a scathing condemnation of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for closing
down the season!
Jay Underwood
Elmsdale NS

Patricia Kelley-Staab wrote:

> Subject: Re: [GM-L] Obits style changes (was Siblings in Chicopee)
> > One of the most interesting things about obituaries is the changes in
> > style.
> > I have many for my ancestors and their siblings. In the late 1800s, is
> > appears to have been more important to extol the descendant's faith, moral
> > character and such. Later it seemed that the pallbearers were the
> > important item. By the 1920, there would be lists of those who came from
> > out of town.
> >
> > Some obits contain a list of all relatives and the person's parents.
> > Others
> > list jobs the person had.
> I think obits were kind of like news items for the community and were free
> to publish. Where I am , in AZ, the death notice is published no charge by
> the paper but the obituary costs money. I imagine most people who are
> paying for an obituary put what is important to them. Some people here
> have long interesting obits and some have none at all. The death notice the
> paper puts in tells you nothing but name, age, date of death. Are they
> charging for obituaries all over the country?
> Pat Kelley-Staab
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