To H. S. Duterte, Dr., General Furnishing Undertaker, No. 838 Lombard St. Philadelphia, printed ca. 1890, issued 1897. Transfer lithograph. Gift of Cordelia H. Brown, Lillie V. Dickerson, Mary Hinkson Jackson, and Georgine E. Willis in honor of Phil Lapsansky.
This billhead reflects the solemn nature of the mortician’s trade through a vignette showing a scene of mourning at a grave site. Less transparent is the identity of the African American undertaker, Henrietta S. Duterte (d. 1903). She was the first woman in the trade in Philadelphia, and possibly the first female embalmer in the country. Saved by a member of the African American Stevens-Cogdell/Sanders-Venning family, this personal ephemera is also a rare historical document representing the 19th-century African American business community and women entrepreneurs.