Friday, July 10, 2009

The burial club: One organization that even Groucho would avoid.

In this interesting podcast from the National Archives-UK, Audrey Collins explores nineteenth-century burial clubs or "friendly societies"—sort of like a Christmas Club for poor people to pay for the funerals and burials of themselves and their nearest and dearest. Except these friendly societies were not so friendly; rather, they were hotbeds of fraud (e.g., people dying several times, people reported dead who were alive, imaginary people reported dead) and murder (family members disinclined to wait for the death benefit).

About the image: "Death found an author writing his life. Author protests the intrusion of Death before writing is complete." Edward Hull, Dec. 1827. National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine Division.


Martin Edwards said...

Fascinating. A burial club would be a great concept for a crime novel.

Elizabeth Foxwell said...

That's my sense as well, Martin.