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If Cemeteries Could Talk

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If Cemeteries Could Talk What we could learn from a walk in the cemetery – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: If Cemeteries Could Talk


1
If Cemeteries Could Talk
  • What we could learn from a walk in the cemetery

2
Within Each community, cemeteries are among the
most fascinating, richest, and often the most
neglected sources of historical information. The
age of the community, its ethnic composition and
the impact made by immigration can be determined
by investigating gravestones. The style of
gravestone, the symbolism of their art and their
inscriptions reflect religious beliefs, social
class, values, as well as cultural change over
time. - Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
3
Burial Practices
  • Burial practices vary from culture to culture and
    across time, for that reason we will confine our
    discussion to Western European or Euro-American
    practices.

4
What should I look for?Questions to ask
  • Available cemetery records alone do not tell the
    complete story.
  • The inscription can tell us something about the
    individual.
  • Symbols can often tell us about something they
    believed in or about an organization to which
    they belonged
  • Grave placement or relative proximity why was
    the person buried close to someone or separated
    by some distance? Is this a reflection of their
    place in a relationship while among the living?
  • Are the families buried around them any relation?

5
Observe
  • Were the internments (burials) in a section made
    at or about the same time?
  • Judging from the birth and death dates were the
    people about the same age at the time of death?
  • Do any of the dates coincide with known events in
    local history. (wars, famines, epidemics, floods
    or other natural disaster)
  • Does this section of the cemetery give evidence
    that it was set aside to receive members of the
    armed forces or clergy etc.?

6
Reasons for human burial
  • Sanitation avoid unpleasant odors from
    bacterial decomposition
  • Remove from view remember appearance as it was
    in life
  • Respect remains are not open to visible decay
    or predation by animals
  • Bring closure pain of loss can be lessened (out
    of sight out of mind almost)
  • Step in the process from life to an afterlife

7
Burial Places
  • Cremation while always the norm in India is
    growing among Western Cultures
  • Places also include in mounds of earth,
    underground caverns and in temples
  • Modern times bury dead below ground with stone
    markers to mark the place - almost universal in
    western culture

8
Marking the Location
  • Serves two main purposes
  • Grave will not accidentally be exhumed
  • Contains information or tributes to the deceased
  • Form of remembrance for loved ones
  • Form of immortality

9
Marking contd.
  • Marked grave lasting memory, fondness respect
  • Unmarked grave consignment to oblivion or an
    ignominious end, disdain and disrespect

10
Anonymous Burial
Normandy France
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Washington D.C.
11
Secret Burial
  • Walt Disney
  • Eva Peron (Evita)

12
Why study gravestones?
  • History should include the lives of ordinary
    people and events
  • Stones mark the graves of ordinary people
  • Gravestones provide valuable information about
    family genealogy, local history, medical history,
    religious history and changing fashion in art and
    literature
  • The power of the cemetery is its call never to
    forget the loved ones who have gone before us

13
History Development of Cemeteries
  • 1620 1820s - Church Yard cemeteries follow
    British custom in the church or church yard
  • 1831 - 1855 rural or garden cemetery
    movement
  • Three great gardens Garden of Eden (place of
    creation a beginning)
  • Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives (prayer,
    betrayal transition to a new life)
  • Garden of the Holy Sepulcher (resurection,new
    life and reward)
  • 1855 1920 lawn and memorial park movement
  • 1920 present

14
Rural Cemeteries Mt. Hope Cemetery Rochester
Grave of Frederick Douglas
15
Forest Lawn Buffalo NY
Birge Memorial
Blocher Monument
16
Cemetery Symbolism
17
Anchor
18
Angel
19
Broken Column
20
Celtic Cross
21
Dove
22
Draped Urn
23
Freemasons
24
Hands
25
Ivy
26
Lamb
27
Lily
28
Lyre
29
Mound
30
Obelisk
31
Orb
32
Rose
33
Sarcophagus
Forest Lawn
34
Sarcophagus contd.
Mount Calvary Cemetery
35
Torch
36
Tree Trunk
37
Urn
38
Willow Tree
39
GAR
40
Gravestones as Material Culture tell us something
about the deceased. Views Values
41
Negative view of death
42
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43
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44
Only slightly more positive
45
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46
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47
Positive View
48
Note Picture of home in Germany pictured on
face of stone
49
Proud Irish Heritage??
Shamrock Image of St. Patrick
50
An image frozen in time. Looking out and beyond
the grave.
Note the open collar and leisure suit fashion of
the 1970s and early 80s
51
Signature of last name placement close together
indicates probable relation.
52
A loving couple? Remembered that way for all time.
53
Father Son / Brother Uncle
Note hair style and plaid shirt.
54
Hair style beard typical of 1970s
55
Interest or participation in sports for a 17 year
old
56
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57
The loss of a child cannot be replaced regardless
of the beauty of the sculpture that marks the
passing
58
The Lord said the times when you have seen
only one set of footprints my child, I have
carried you!
Love is immortal
59
Inscriptions
  • The inscription reads Molly tho pleasant in her
    day was suddenly seized and sent away. How soon
    shes ripe because shes rotten, sent to her
    grave and now forgotten

60
Sears Catalog Tombstones
61
For Further Reading Study
  • Farrell, James J. Inventing the American Way of
    Death. Philadelphia Temple University of
    Pennsylvania Press, 1980.
  • French, Stanley. The Cemetery as Cultural
    Institution The Establishment of Mount Auburn
    and the Rural Cemetery Movement. Stannard,
    David E., Editor, Death In America. Philadelphia
    University of Pennsylvania Press, 1975.

62
Further Reading contd.
  • Mitford, Jessica, The American Way of Death. New
    York Simon and Schuster, 1963.

63
Websites of Interest
  • http//www.forest-lawn.com/
  • http//www.gravestonestudies.org
  • www.sellersfuneralhome.com
  • http//ah.bfn.org/a/forestL/symbols/index.html
  • http//members.tripod.com/wnyroots/
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