Cemeteries as Public History

14 Apr

by Nick Junge-

Throughout this semester in class we have talked about different types of public history. One place that we can consider as public history that we have not put much emphasis on is cemeteries. Cemeteries have always been an interest of mine because you can learn so much from the information that the graves present. They do not always present just death and sadness, but information about epidemics, wars, and the migrations of people. In my anthropology 111 class we had to do a project that made us go document 100 grave sites. With the different information on all of the graves we had to write a summary of possible reasons for low deaths in one year range and high deaths in another. Many of the deaths we recorded were individuals that fought in World War II.

Last summer I took a trip to Tennessee and while there I stopped in Franklin, Tennessee to visit the battlefield site. The last thing that we visited was the cemetery of the battlefield. This was very interesting to see where all of the soldiers came from to fight this battle. They had them organized state by state when they buried them. A big problem that they are having is preserving the gravestones to allow people to read them and know whom they are. They have a book that has each gravesite recorded so you can go and look if the gravestone is unclear.

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