Cemetery research books

Although each cemetery has its own personality, after awhile cemeteries start to look alike. So I look at online photos, blog posts and books about cemeteries in other parts of the country from time to time, as a perspective check and to encourage myself to keep looking with fresh eyes.

Here are a few of my currently-reading titles for getting a look at cemeteries in New England and Colorado. They also help me understand the history of cemeteries in the United States and the cultural context around headstone and cemetery design.

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Faces in Stone: The Early American Gravestone as Primitive Art

by Richard Friswell 

This charming little booklet of about 18 pages is much like a chapbook or a ‘zine and it took me back in time to the 1970s before self-publishing went entirely digital. There are short chapters on tombstone history, art, symbols, stone-rubbing techniques, and references. I found the “profiling” appendix especially interesting as it shows typical headstone shapes by decades from the 1600’s. We don’t get to see those in the Pacific Northwest!

Stones and Bones of New England: A Guide To Unusual, Historic, and Otherwise Notable Cemeteries

by Lisa Rogak (Author), Ray Bendici

Cemeteries in the Pacific Northwest date from the mid-1800s so I rarely get to see gravesites that are really old. This was an impulse purchase to get a look at some older cemeteries in New England as it’s likely to be a long time before I get back there! (The “unusual” and “notable” got me.) Notable cemeteries in each state are mapped out along with descriptions, illustrations and photos. I’m really enjoying this armchair tour and it makes me want to plan a trip back East when the pandemic threat is not an issue.

From the Grave: A Roadside Guide to Colorado’s Pioneer Cemeteries 

by Linda R. Wommack (Author)

Continuing in the armchair tourism theme, I picked this up assuming a road trip to Colorado at some point. I lived in Colorado as a child and thought it might be fun to go back and look at pioneer cemeteries from a different perspective and recognize famous names from childhood history lessons. This book contains a good deal of history and quite a lot of thumbnail sketches of pioneers significant in Colorado’s history. It would be of special interest to those who enjoy finding the graves of famous people.

I’ve also been watching a few YouTube videos featuring cemeteries of the South, which fascinate me. More on that in a future post.


Stump and Lamb explores personal growth and meaning via travels to pioneer cemeteries of the West. Posts may contain affiliate links.

This post was originally published at michellerau.com.

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