In popular culture, cemeteries have something of a bad reputation, considered by many to be sad or creepy on their best day, and downright haunted on their worst. But this is by no means a complete or accurate view; they also can be beautiful, peaceful, historic, and educational.
Overall, cemeteries need to be well-researched and preserved so they can tell us more about how people in the past viewed death and burial. This toolkit is designed to help you start researching cemeteries; you can find more information on how to save them in our publication Preservation of Historic Burial Grounds.
Please note: In this post we’ve focused on 17th - 19th century burial grounds -- essentially non-modern churchyards, cemeteries, and family plots. A future toolkit will take on prehistoric and Native American sacred and burial sites.
1. Be sensitive. If there is a golden rule to the preservation of cemeteries and burial grounds, it is to be aware that our diverse country is home to a wide variety of burial customs. Take into account cultural sensitivities when working above-ground, and employ only professional, trained archaeologists for below-ground research.
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The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.