Oliver H. Bair Company records
Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
In 1878 Oliver Bair founded the Oliver H. Bair Company with the idea that funeral services needed to be implemented with more compassion and concern from those who were arranging the funeral. Mr. Bair strove to improve the quality of caring and service that families received when they needed to make funeral arrangements for their loved ones. Under this ideology the Oliver H. Bair Company was established at 41 North Eighteenth Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The funeral home's most well-known location was at 1820 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, and in 1982 this location was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
As of 2012 the Oliver H. Bair Company is located at 8500 West Chester Pike in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and is under the management of John J. Monaghan, who purchased the funeral home in 2007. Mr. Monaghan oversees the Oliver H. Bair Company along with the Monaghan Funeral Home, which is located at 612 Main Street in Red Hill, Pennsylvania. Prior to being purchased by Mr. Monaghan the Oliver H. Bair Company had itself purchased other funeral homes in the Philadelphia region, including William Rowan Grant, Inc., David G. Frankenfield & Sons, Inc., William F. Cushing, Inc., Davies Funeral Chapel and Evoy & Sons, Inc. The Oliver H. Bair Company also operated two branch homes, Oliver Bair-Shroeder, Inc. in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Oliver H. Bair Company, Suburban-West, which was located at the present home of the Oliver H. Bair Company.
The Oliver H. Bair Company collection spans the time period from 1920 to 1980, and is housed in 991 boxes. The collection consists of burial records not only from the Oliver H. Bair Company and its three branches, but also of five other funeral homes that operated in the Philadelphia area and were at one point or another purchased by Oliver H. Bair. The records donated by Oliver H. Bair seem to be comprehensive; however the records of the other funeral homes seem more scattered. These include William Rowan Grant, Inc., David G. Frankenfield & Sons, Inc., William F. Cushing, Inc., Davies Funeral Chapel and Evoy & Sons, Inc.
Each record in the collection documents the burial of an individual, and the contents of the records vary. Nearly all records contain an informational sheet, which includes the deceased’s biographical information as well as the funeral home’s notes and information. Accompanying these sheets are often copies of bills from the funeral home, as well as brief correspondence between the funeral home and the deceased’s family. There are often newspapers clippings of the obituary of the deceased, and in rare cases other items such as correspondence from law firms, small coin purses, or books containing the deceased's Continuous Service Certificate from the armed forces. Most months also have a miscellaneous envelope and a limousine envelope. The miscellaneous envelopes contain incomplete burial documents of an individual or grave removal records. The limousine envelopes contain documents specifying when families rented a carriage or limousine for the funeral service.
The records are organized into series by funeral home and within each series are arranged chronologically by burial date. The miscellaneous and limousine records are placed at the end of each month.
Series I. Oliver H. Bair Company
Series II. Davies Funeral Chapel
Series III. William F. Cushing, Inc.
Series IV. Evoy & Sons, Inc.
Series V. David G. Frankenfield & Sons, Inc.
Series VI. William Rowan Grant, Inc.
Gift of Oliver H. Bair Company, 1993-1994.
There are records within this collection that have been cleaned for mold. The boxes that house these records are labeled and we ask researchers to exercise caution when using them. Other records are currently receiving treatment for mold. Once cleaned and prepared for usage the records will be placed at the end of the collection. The records currently being treated for mold intermittently span the time frame of August 1933 and July 1934.
- Burial Records--20th century
- Funeral homes--New Jersey--Camden County
- Funeral homes--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
- Funerals--20th century
- Genealogy & local history
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Matthew McNelis
- Finding Aid Date
- Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by a generous donation from Ancestry.com
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research; please see information on moldy records in the processing note below.