Business of Death: Thou Art Gone to the Grave
Late nineteenth - early twentieth century mortuary artifacts from
the Shawnee Town Museum collection
Although a dark subject, we’ve striven to illuminate the funeral industry by displaying selected artifacts that illustrate society’s changing relationship with death in this online exhibit.
Shawnee Town Museum CollectionWelcome to our museum’s funerary artifacts site. Shawnee Town 1929 is a living history museum dedicated to interpreting and preserving the history and culture of Shawnee, Kansas in the 1920's. The living history component of the physical site concentrates on the 1920's and into the 1930's, but our artifact collection of objects, especially funerary-related objects, is vast and transcends the decade of the 1920's.
During the 1970’s and 80’s, the Gene Amos family of Shawnee donated a sizable collection of artifacts related to the undertaking profession in Shawnee and Johnson County. Since 2012, two other large collections were donated to the museum. Gene's vision for and generosity to the museum has resulted in one of the most comprehensive collections of funeral-related objects in the midwestern United States. This online exhibit features objects key to telling the story of the business of undertaking, how it changed through time, and how people's perception of funerals and undertaking changed along with it.
Public funeral in Morse, Kansas, 1917. Original caption reads "Cyclone Victims June 8, 1917." Photo courtesy of the Johnson County Museum.