Event type
Women's History
Event dates
, 5:15PM - 7:15PM
IHR Pollard Seminar Room, N301, Third Floor, IHR, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Wanda Henry (Brown/Wheaton)
020 7862 8740

Dealing with death was parish business. Therefore, as undertakers established themselves in London from the late seventeenth through the eighteenth century, parish clerks and sextons served as important connections between grieving families and undertakers. Ultimately, by the early nineteenth century, several parish clerks and sextons worked as undertakers. This paper investigates the connection between the parish and the undertaking trade with a particular emphasis on women. Generally, women worked within family traditions of service as parish officers. By the mid-nineteenth century, as burials shifted from churchyards to cemeteries, parish records, city directories, and census reports indicate that single women continued to deal with death but had greater difficulty than men competing for business beyond the local level of the parish. By considering female undertakers, this paper widens our perspective on women's careers in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century London.

Following a career as a mathematics teacher, Wanda S. Henry completed her PhD in history at Brown University. Her research investigates women who worked in England's parishes as sextons and searchers of the dead. She has published articles in Gender & Historyand the Journal for the Social History of Medicine. She has taught at Brown and currently teaches at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. With a bit of luck, she will soon publish her revised dissertation as a monograph.