Framing Grief: Funeral Flower Frames in America, 1860-1920



Askew, Janie Rawles

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The multitude of flowers frames used in American mourning culture of the nineteenth century up to World War I have left behind a vivid, visual history of the changing perceptions about death. This thesis will explore how funeral flower frames reveal an emotional and cultural shift from fears of hellfire and damnation, to a concept of restful sleep for the redeemed soul and hope of being reunited in a better place. The use of flowers at funerals evolved from a way to mask the physical and sensory ugliness of death to messages of religious and sentimental beauty, to individualized and symbolic representations of the deceased, and finally to conventional tokens for the funeral director to use decoratively. This thesis will explore the relationship between the presence of wire flower frames at funerals and the changing perceptions of death throughout the nineteenth century and up to World War I.



Floriculture, Funerals, Flowers, Mourning, Flower arrangement