----- ............Cemetery Walk: An afternoon of discovery! Every stone has a story. And they are waiting to be told........... -----

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sears Catalogs Online

I've done several posts on headstones from Sears. If you have a subscription to Ancestry.com you will now find the Sears catalogs online. I haven't been able to tell if the special tombstone catalogs have been included but you can find some headstones in the regular catalogs. In the past I have borrowed several catalogs through inter-library loan to obtain copies to use in my research.
Here is the description:

Source Information

Ancestry.com. Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.

Original data: Sears Roebuck Catalogs 1896–1993. Vol.102–228 K. Chicago, Illinois: Sears, Roebuck and Co.

About Historic Catalogs of Sears, Roebuck and Co., 1896-1993

From a printed mailer in 1888 to the final publication in 1993, the Sears Catalog has grown into an important record of what life was like through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Beginning with mail order goods the company followed the railroad in America’s westward expansion and quickly became a national institution providing a wide variety of goods. This particular database contains images of these historic catalogs over the years.
Do you know what your great grandparents would have worn? What would they have wanted for Christmas? Get an idea by looking at the Sears Catalog through the years. The original 1888 mailer carrying watches and jewelry expanded into a catalog in 1894 that kept growing offering an ever-widening range of products: sewing machines, sporting goods, musical instruments, saddles, firearms, buggies, bicycles, baby carriages, and clothing. In the late 1800s the catalog began carrying Christmas holiday items leading to its eventual status as the “Wish Book.”

Other interesting facts about the Sears and Roebuck Catalog include some of the people who were involved in the making of it. Big name 40s and 50s film stars Lauren Bacall and Susan Hayward model fashions in pages of the catalog. Also featured are Ted Williams, a major baseball player in the 40s, Al Unser, a race car driver, and Gene Autry, “The Singing Cowboy.” If your ancestor was a member of a fraternal organization such as the Freemasons or the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers you may be able to find pictures of pins created for their organizations. Music history in America also credits Sears catalog with changing American life style because of the inexpensive but quality musical instruments offered through mail order.

Some of the above information was taken from:
 •History of Sears Catalog. Sears Archives, 2004. Web. June 9, 2010.
•Bradford, David K. The Sears Catalog. The Unstrung History of the American Guitar and 19th Century American Music. 2009. Web. July 6, 2010.

 I used the following search terms to find information or photos about headstones, etc:
  • Tombstone
  • Headstone
  • Monument
  • Memorial
  • Cemetery
  • Graveyard
I'm sure there are other terms that will find items of interest. I was also delighted to see the note about finding pins for fraternal organizations. We often find emblems for them on headstones so I'm curious to see the pins.

If you discover other items that relate to cemeteries or headstones please let me know.

During my search I came across this. I have never seen anything like this in the cemetery. Have you?


  1. Great post! I have saved a ton of Sears ads I have found. Think I will start sharing them.

  2. I, for one prefer not to see these old Sears catalog pages on Ancestry.com. They are irrelevant and hinder search result scanning.

  3. Jostaclo,

    That may be the case for you and the type of research you do. I disagree with you in them being irrelevant. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Wow! Love it....I have seen many conch shells in old cemeteries...I've never seen writing on them, though! How interesting! I wouldn't have ever known you could order them from Sears, though! I may have to take a better look at a couple that are still in an old cemetery I go to. Do you happen to know if Sears sold a blue and white spongeware type of tombstone? I've found one in an old cemetery and haven't been able to obtain any info about it's origin.
    Kathy Robinson


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