History of Worsham College of Mortuary Science

Funeral service education has advanced tremendously from the days of the itinerant embalmer, who offered a short course in embalming technique as he moved from one community to another.

Worsham College of Mortuary Science was founded by Professor Albert Worsham on March 17, 1911, as the Worsham College of Embalming. Professor Worsham was born in 1868, near Connorsville, Indiana, where he worked and trained at a variety of medical schools and hospitals. In 1902, he made the acquaintance of Dr. Carl Barnes, founder and owner of the Barnes School of Anatomy & Embalming in Chicago.

photograph of early mortuary science students at Worsham College

Professor Worsham soon became intrigued with anatomy and in 1902, enrolled at the Barnes College. Upon graduation, Professor Worsham joined the faculty of the Barnes College where he taught for nine years, before founding one of the oldest colleges of mortuary science in existence today. Until his death on September 25, 1939, Worsham committed himself to selecting as his faculty, well-qualified professionals who, along with Professor Worsham, placed a great emphasis upon practical experience supported by scientific training. After Professor Worsham died, his wife Laura made plans to carry out their wishes to have the college continue in the hands of their faculty. Seven members of the staff, all physicians, purchased the College, and changed its name to Worsham College of Mortuary Science.

photograph of students studying early mortuary science students at Worsham College

For the next 26 years, Worsham College operated under the combined efforts of the new owners, all of whom instructed in various capacities. In 1961, attorneys Erwin Greenberg and James Spangler, assumed the administrative duties of the College. They operated the College until 1979, when Bruno Bak, a faculty member since his graduation from Worsham in 1947, became President. Mr. Bak together with Joan Tomczak-Bak, who served in the capacity as Registrar since 1967, moved the College to the northern suburbs of Chicago.

photo of some of the first women to earn mortuary science degrees | Worsham College: a leader among funeral science schools

Presently, Karl Kann, President and Stephanie Kann, Vice President, both graduates of Worsham College in 1990, are the Chief Administrators of the College. In the tradition set forth by generations, and most notably Joan and Bruno Bak, Stephanie and Karl Kann continue to nurture and guide students. Their mission is to insure that Worsham College of Mortuary Science grows and evolves, meeting the everchanging needs of the funeral service profession.

photo of students inspecting a cadaver on a gurney | Worsham College of Mortuary Science

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