In 2015, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP) launched HSP Encounters, a new digital resource comprised of an ever-growing number of genealogical and biographical databases.
HSP Encounters is an ongoing project in which records and materials deemed of high research value are digitized and made available to HSP members online, in searchable form. Historical essays incorporated in the system describe each database as well as establish historical context for the records contained.
To highlight the databases in HSP Encounters, we'll be featuring historical essays describing the database's context and contents on Roots & Branches. This essay, written by Matthew McNelis, looks at the Oliver H. Bair Company records database.
HSP Encounters is available to all researchers while inside the Reading Room. Remote access is a benefit of HSP membership. HSP also offers a Research-by-Mail service, with professional researchers delving into the collection in reponse to specific queries, as well as a Rights & Reproduction service for those wanting an archival-quality print of HSP's collection materials. HSP members receive 40% off Research-by-Mail requests & 10% off archival prints.
The Oliver H. Bair Company was founded in 1878 with the intent to offer the best service possible for families that had to make funeral arrangements for their deceased loved ones. Originating at 41 North Eighteenth Street in Philadelphia, the funeral home's most well-known location was at 1820 Chestnut Street, and it now operates from 8500 West Chester Pike in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, as a member of Oliver H. Bair Company & Monaghan Funeral Home.
The collection contains records dated from 1920-1980 and includes records not only from Oliver H. Bair Company, but also from five other funeral homes that operated in Philadelphia and were purchased by the Oliver H. Bair Company. The burial records include information on the deceased, bills pertaining to funeral expenses, newspaper clippings, and correspondence between Oliver H. Bair and the person responsible for the payment for the deceased's funeral.
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 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 1820 Chestnut Street location was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
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.
Access to the records from 1920-1980 are via 5x7 index cards. These cards were digitized and electronically indexed through an agreement between Ancestry.com and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Copies of the original records may be obtained via HSP’s Research-by-Mail service (firstname.lastname@example.org).