THE OBITUARY AND FUNERAL PROGRAM COLLECTION, 1962-2010
Funeral programs and obituaries are a rich source of information on the black experience in South Florida. The Black Archives Obituary and Funeral Program Collection documents the lives and deaths of three centuries of black South Floridians. Individually, these obituaries and programs are an excellent source of genealogical information; collectively, they provide information about the African Diaspora and African American heritage, and a cross section of the religious, occupational and educational affiliations of black South Florida.
Moreover, because obituaries and funeral programs are written by African Americans about African Americans, they provide an authentic eyewitness account of the black experience in South Florida. Obituaries printed prior to 1980 are particularly valuable as it was not until recently that mainstream newspapers started publishing African-American obituaries.
The role of funeral programs in uncovering information about the African Diaspora and African American heritage has been garnering attention from the press. Last year, an article printed in the Society of American Archivists bimonthly newsletter, Archival Outlook, emphasized the importance of funeral programs in genealogical research and pointed out that African American obituaries have not always been published in mainstream daily newspapers.
The Black Archives Obituary and Funeral Program Collection contains over 1,400 programs dating from 1962 to 2011. It is arranged alphabetically and lists names, nick names, birth dates, and death or funeral dates. African American funeral program collections also exist in Chicago, Alabama, Georgia, New Orleans, North Carolina, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. What makes The Black Archives’ collection particularly important is the fact that Miami was the first landing place for more people of African heritage than any other city in America.
Churches represented in our collection include: Antioch Missionary Baptist, Bethel Apostolic, Catholic Church of the Holy Redeemer, Christ Episcopal, Church of the Incarnation, Church of the Open Door, Ebeneezer United Methodist, Friendship Missionary Baptist, Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church, Holy Redeemer Catholic, Jordan Grove Baptist, Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist, Mt. Sinai Baptist, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist, New Bethel A.M.E., New Shiloh Missionary Baptist, Palmetto Baptist & Allapattah Baptist, Second Baptist, St. Agnes Episcopal, St. Francis Xavier Catholic, St. James A.M.E., St. Mary’s Wesleyan Methodist, St. Peter’s African Orthodox, and The Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.
Occupations represented include: the armed forces, book keepers, civil servants, cooks, corrections officers, cosmetologists, custodians, entrepreneurs, glaziers, journalists, laundresses, letter carriers, nurses, office administrators, postal employees, priests, park rangers, retailers, school principals, skilled tradesmen, social workers and teachers.
And schools represented include: Albany State College, Barry University, Bethune Cookman College, Booker T. Washington High, Brewster School of Nursing, Carver High, Cornell University, Dillard High, Dorsey High, Florida Atlantic University, Florida A&M, Florida Memorial College, George Washington Carver, Miami Beach Senior High, Morehouse College, New York University, Norland Senior High, North Dade, Northwestern High, Sunlight Beauty School, University of Miami, University of Pittsburg, and the University of Tampa.
We wish to thank our volunteers who worked hard to arrange and describe the collection, and the many people who donated obituaries and programs. A description of the collection, including names, nick names, birth dates, and death or funeral dates, is available here. If you wish to donate a program or programs to the collection, please contact Archivist Nneka Hanchard, 305-6362306, nhanchard@theblackarchives[dot]org.