Lack of History About the Australian Hearse

    Recently I put together this short history of the funeral industry, in it I note that there is a serious absence of the hearse.   In this post I discuss this absence of such an important part of the industry.

    In exploring the history of the funeral industry for honours I have noticed a lack of information about the hearse.  There are few written sources available which discuss the hearse in terms of history and relationship to the industry over time.

    On the surface this is not much of an issue, the hearse is just a car, a small part of a huge and dynamic industry and thus not worth the time needed to discuss it when compared to other things.  However, this is untrue as the hearse is actually a very significant part of the industry, historically and currently.

    My surveys and discussions with undertakers have found the hearse to be a very important symbol.  To many companies and individuals it is a badge of pride, quite a few funeral staff describe the hearse in emotional language, talking of how nice theirs looks, how ugly others are and so on.  There is a direct relationship between so many funeral staff and their hearse, it is part of their identity, and the company identity.

    The hearse is also part of the funeral industry identity, not much is more symbolic of a funeral than the hearse, the next most symbolic and clear thing would arguably be the coffin.  To the public and mourners the hearse is an icon of the funeral industry.

    So to overlook the hearse in discussions of the history and current culture of the industry is a rather strange oversight.  Unfortunately I have little to no information on the history of the hearse, other than when motorised hearses started to be used.  Because of this I will instead focus on the current hearse, explaining it in detail and exploring the attitudes and perceptions surrounding it.

    Get ready, I have many posts on the hearse over the next month or so!


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