Featured Photo: The Philadelphia Inquirer – October 1, 1907
Anna T. Jeanes Cremation Fund
Friends are reminded that the Anna T. Jeanes Cremation Fund is available to reimburse cremation costs of members of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting monthly meetings.
Application may be made by monthly meeting pastoral care committees, family members, administrators or executors for a deceased member of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Applications may be submitted up to one one year after the member’s death, after cremation costs are paid, and once required documents are available. Reimbursement maximum is $800. Contact PYM grants staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for help applying.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
In addition, FEMA has substantial grants of up to $9,000 available for COVID-19 related funeral/internment/cremation expenses. FEMA’s website details eligibility requirements and instructions for applying using a toll free number.
The Dynamic History of Cremation
In her will, Anna T. Jeanes set aside money “to encourage and aid in the practice of cremating the dead.” Cremation today is a much more common and socially accepted practice than it was when Anna T. Jeanes, an outspoken supporter of cremation, died in 1907. The Inquirer’s depiction of Anna T. Jeanes’ cremation offers a window into the era’s societal attitudes towards cremation.
But it was not the only revolutionary thing in Quakerdom that happened at the services.
With amazement the Friends gathered there heard that in her last will and testament Miss Jeanes had request that her body be cremated. Infrequent as is music at Quaker meetings, cremations are still more revolutionary.
Nevertheless, Miss Jeanes wishes were carried out, her body being dropped into a furnace in the crematory at Germantown and quickly turned into ashes. The ashes were [later] buried in the grave of Miss Jeanes’ brother at Fairhill Cemetery.
Farther down in the news article, The Inquirer continued:
Friends are Surprised.
“Miss Jeanes made another request.” The minister continued. “She wanted to be cremated and as soon as this meeting is over the funeral procession will drive to the crematory in Germantown and the body will be cremated.” At first a hush fell over the room. No orthodox Friend is cremated and few unorthodox ones are disposed of in that way. But the Friends loved Miss Jeanes so much that they began to say to one another: “She always was a progressive, modern woman. Look how she painted and wrote poetry and studied theology and Buddhism, magnetism and wireless telegraphy. She was way before her time.
The shift in how Quakers have come to regard cremation, perhaps in part due to the efforts of Anna T. Jeanes, offers a small reminder of the social shifts Quakers are capable of undergoing. For further reading, Friends Journal’s The Legacy and Philanthropy of Anna Thomas Jeanes details the broad scope of Anna T. Jeanes’s philanthropic endeavors.
Newspaper clippings and cover image were accessed via Newspapers.com. The articles, published in 1907, are part of the public domain.