Cemeteries as Windows into Communities

  • Gary S. FosterEmail author
  • William E. Lovekamp


Cemeteries are ubiquitous with communities, nearly regardless of size, proxies of the communities they represent. In the absence of written records and documents, cemeteries archive the socio-demographics and vital records of community. Just as a single gravestone tells an individual story, all gravestones from a single cemetery or community inform a reconstruction of community, historically. Engraved headstones yield a wealth of social data, including sex/gender, ethnicity, age, seasonal fertility and mortality patterns, familial status, marital status, and so on. Epitaphs suggest demeanor of the deceased or the perceptions by the living of the dead. Even unaltered field stones marking graves, and interment in particular cemeteries, as conscious and deliberate choices, are social data to be considered.


Community proxies/representatives Commercial gravestones Epitaphs Gravestone data Socio-demographic data 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology, Anthropology, and CriminologyEastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA

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