Mortuary files can be a treasure trove of genealogical information. They can provide priceless information about the deceased and the family left behind. However, they can be difficult to find and access. The mortuary of Valente, Marini, Perata & Co. served the people of San Francisco, California for 129 years, since 1888. (Note-This is Eighteen years before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.)
When VMP & Co. closed their doors in 2017, they donated their records to the Colma Historical Association. “The Colma Historical Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit membership-supported organization.” They were founded on July 26, 1993. They maintain a museum at 1500 Hillside Blvd., Colma, CA 94014. Their phone number is 650-757-1676. Their mission is “To collect, preserve and display documents and artifacts and disseminate information relating to the history of the Town of Colma.”
The mortuary records are not available online, but it is a simple process to request a copy of individual records. The first step is to locate the index of the records. In nearby San Mateo County, The San Mateo County Genealogical Society has created a helpful database to facilitate searching the index of the records. You will find their “Databases” page at https://smcgs.org/Databases . Scroll down to the “Death Records and Substitutes” section. You will find a link to the VMP&Co. records. You will find an “About” link where you may read a short history of the records. The “Search” link will take you to the page where you may conduct your search. The index is for the records from 1888-1964. Below are pictures of the search page for the index and an example of the search results. You may search by surname or use the various filters to narrow your search.
Once you find a person you are interested in, note what Book and Bp (Page) they are on. This will be important for the next step. Next, you will want to go to the website for the Colma Historical Association: https://www.colmahistory.com/contact.htm .
You can use their message feature, or you can email them at email@example.com . At the time this article was written, the contact person for record requests was the association Secretary, Richard Rocchetta. You will want to send a short email to him with your name and contact information and the information of the person/s you are interested in. Include the name, death date, and most importantly, the Book and Page numbers mentioned above.
Mr. Rocchetta and the staff at the CHS are volunteers and copies of the records are free of charge. They only provide copies of the records; they do not conduct research. Mr. Rocchetta answers requests about once a week. It is polite to keep your request to three names or less. There does not appear to be a limit on requests. Personally, I have waited a few weeks between requests. Over the last year, I have sent about ten requests.
Below are two examples of what you will receive via email. As you can see, in earlier years, the mortuary used a handwritten ledger. Later, a more customized ledger was used.
There is unique and valuable information on these records. You may find personal information about the deceased or family that you will not find in official government or church records. They are a great resource to anyone who is conducting research in the San Francisco, California area. I have personally found information in these records that I have not been able to find anywhere else. For example, I have found death information for persons who passed away in San Francisco before the 1906 earthquake.
The staff and volunteers of the San Mateo County Genealogy Society and the Colma Historical Association deserve special thanks for preserving these important records. I encourage you to use them in your Bay Area research.
 “San Mateo County Genealogical Society,” Mortuary Files of Valente Marini Perata & Co., SMCGS Blog (blog), Wednesday, February 7, 2018. (http://smcgs.blogspot.com/2018/02/mortuary-files-of-valente-marini-perata.html : accessed 17 January 2022).
 “San Mateo County Genealogical Society,” Mortuary Files of Valente Marini Perata & Co., SMCGS Blog (blog).
 Cisberto Pagano Mortuary Record (San Francisco, CA). Scanned Copy. 21 August 1900. Digital image. Privately held by Marcus Flansburg, [Address for private use,] Smithfield, Utah. 2022.
 Frances Pagano Mortuary Record (San Francisco, CA). Scanned Copy. 21 August 1900. Digital image. Privately held by Marcus Flansburg, [Address for private use,] Smithfield, Utah. 2022.