The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center
CredoResearch digital collections in Credo

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Massachusetts Records

1959-2020 Bulk: 1964-2020
10 boxes 2.09 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1133

Logo of the Funeral Consumers Alliance

Funerals in the U.S. are an expensive business, and grieving families will often accept what is called “traditional” rather than try to fight for services tailored to their budgets and beliefs. The first memorial societies were founded to combat the often predatory practices of the funeral industry after embalming prices skyrocketed in the 1930s, but the movement didn’t fully catch on until 1958 when investigative journalist Jessica Mitford brought the issue to greater public attention. Her article “Saint Peter Don’t Call On Me,” television appearances, and subsequent book “The American Way of Death” broke taboos surrounding the discussion of burial and sparked the founding of watchdog and consumer advocacy organizations across the country. The Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western Mass (FCAWM), initially known as the Springfield Memorial Society, was founded in 1959, incorporated in March 1962, and by 1963 had federated with other similar organizations to create the Continental Association of Funeral and Memorial Societies (CAFMS). When Canadian groups separated from CAFMS, the federation name changed to Funeral and Memorial Societies of America (FAMSA), and later (2000) the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA).

The bulk of the FCAWM records contain organizational records such as correspondence, minutes and agendas for public and private meetings, and financial records. There is also a selection of informational pamphlets and leaflets generated by the FCAWM, other FCAs, and the funeral industry. Additionally, there are several pages from a set of scrapbooks maintained by former members between 1964 and 1978 which contain newspaper and magazine clippings on death, dying, and the funeral industry at large. The collection was acquired from Sandra Ward in 2021, a board member and former president of the FCAWM, and includes material collected both by herself and previous presidents.

Gift of Sandra Ward, 2021


Burial insurance--MassachusettsConsumer Protection--MassachusettsDeath care industry--MassachusettsFuneral Homes--Berkshire County (Mass.)Funeral Homes--Franklin County (Mass.)Funeral Homes--Hampden County (Mass.)Funeral Homes--Hampshire County (Mass.)Funeral consultants--MassachusettsFuneral service--MassachusettsFuneral supplies industry--MassachusettsUndertakers and undertaking--MassachusettsWake services--Massachusetts


Funeral Consumers Alliance of Western MassachusettsWard, Sandra Nichols, 1943-

Types of material

Agendas (administrative records)Articles of incorporationAudiocassettesBookletsBrochuresBylawsCorrespondenceFliersInstructional materialsLeaflets (printed works)Legal correspondenceMailing listsMembership applicationsMembership listsMinutes (administrative records)NewslettersNewspaper clippingsPrice listsSubscription lists
Restrictions: none none