How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

Some of the web versions of the Preservation Briefs differ somewhat from the printed versions. Many illustrations are new and in color; Captions are simplified and some complex charts are omitted. To order hard copies of the Briefs, see Printed Publications.

How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

Volunteers can undertake cleaning of grave markers once they have received initial training. Cleaning methods may include wetting the stone, using a mild chemical cleaner, gently agitating the surface with a soft bristle brush, and thoroughly rinsing the marker with clean water. Photo: Jason Church.

PRESERVATION BRIEFS

Mary F. Striegel, Frances Gale, Jason Church and Debbie Dietrich-Smith

Cemeteries found across the country are not only places of burial, but they also provide a vivid record of community history. Whether large or small, well maintained or neglected, historic cemeteries are an important part of our cultural landscape. The vast richness of expression through form, decoration and materials informs our understanding of the individuals buried in historic cemeteries and their cultural significance.

While cemeteries are often considered to be perpetual, their most prominent feature—the grave markers—are not. They weather, naturally decay, often are poorly maintained and repaired and, on occasion, are vandalized. Grave markers are usually noteworthy not only for their inscriptions but also for their craftsmanship. Exceptional markers are considered works of art.

This Preservation Brief focuses on a single aspect of historic cemetery preservation—providing guidance for owners, property managers, administrators, in-house maintenance staff, volunteers, and others who are responsible for or are interested in preserving and protecting grave markers. Besides describing grave marker materials and the risk factors that contribute to their decay, the Brief provides guidance for assessing their conditions and discusses maintenance programs and various preservation treatments.

Across the country, grassroots organizations are springing up in small towns and in big cities to take care of historic cemeteries. Those burial plots along the road, in someone’s backyard, or connected to an old church are often not maintained, the occupants’ relatives having moved on long ago. But cemeteries are part of our collective history, and their gravestones tell stories of people who once lived, worked, and loved, memorialized by a few carved sentences.

Groups such as the Cemetery Protection Resource Training (CRPT) Alliance are getting the word out to local communities about how to preserve historic cemeteries and protect human burial sites. CRPT is a program of the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), a state-wide organization dedicated to archaeological outreach, and the brain child of Sarah Miller, an archaeologist and the director of FPAN’s Northeast Region. (Full disclosure: FPAN is under the umbrella of my employer, the University of West Florida, and their headquarters are here in Pensacola.) I sat down with Sarah to find out more about the work she does and about what people can do to clean up and protect their local cemeteries.

This gravestone from Magnolia/Zion AME in Pensacola, FL, is an example of vernacular design. (Photo . [+] used with permission of S.E. Miller.)

Where did the idea for CRPT come from?

The public’s concern about abandoned cemeteries has been growing over the past decade. When Sarah started fielding lots of calls through FPAN from citizens and local government officials, she created her first CRPT workshop. This short course involved information on how to record cemeteries in the state’s database, how ground penetrating radar works and what it can do to help find graves, and what the laws are about historic cemeteries. Since 2011, Sarah and other FPAN staff across Florida have given 40 similar presentations in 30 different communities across Florida, empowering graduates of the workshop to take charge of their cemeteries.

What do cemetery preservation organizations do for the community?

Run-down cemeteries tend to be unsafe spaces in a community. Just by having people in a cemetery – visiting for a stroll, a tour, or a presentation – it becomes safer and makes people aware of their community’s past. But more importantly, these organizations facilitate massive clean-up efforts. In St. Augustine, for example, a group called Operation: Restore Respect includes National Guard volunteers and community members who clean up abandoned cemeteries. This kind of work is what will keep a cemetery in place for a century to come.

Are there similar organizations and events in other parts of the country?

Cemetery preservation tends to be a grassroots effort, but workshops are offered by the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training and by the National Preservation Institute. Another great resource is the Association for Gravestone Studies, which has local chapters in over 11 states and some good online resources for those without a state chapter. It may be worth contacting the State Historic Preservation Office or the local historical or genealogical society.

Florida’s CRPT is a bit unique because it’s local, inexpensive, and geared toward non-professionals. It’s a model other states could easily adapt if there are qualified archaeologists or preservationists willing to help.

What if human bones are found during cemetery clean-up?

Most states have human remains laws, and it’s best to be familiar with them before embarking on a cemetery clean-up project. In Florida, it’s a misdemeanor to know about bones and not report them to law enforcement! Bones in a cemetery are most likely associated with that site, but a call to the local police will trigger a response by a field technician or the Medical Examiner’s office to determine if they are historic bones or part of an open case. In short: Leave bones in place!

What are the 5 most important things people can do to save historic cemeteries?

  1. Visit a cemetery. Bring your kids for a walk and visit these amazing outdoor museums to learn about local history, connect names with influential people in town, or look at the symbolism on the gravestones.
  2. Help clean up the cemetery. FPAN has a list of do’s and don’ts that anyone can follow. Vines and weeds can easily be removed. Gravestones can be cleaned with a soft brush and water or D2 (just don’t use bleach!).
  3. Contact your State Historic Preservation Office. Ask the SHPO if there are any cemetery preservation stewards working in your state. If not, ask at the local historical or genealogical society for help recording gravestones in a local cemetery.
  4. Schedule cemetery events. Hold a regular clean-up day, host a small tour to highlight people or groups significant to local history, or start a webpage to build a community of people who care about the cemetery.
  5. Record the location of historic cemeteries. It is critical to properly record cemeteries and not just gravestones. Websites like Find A Grave are great resources but do not meet the legal requirements of historic preservation. In Florida, the state maintains a Master Site File of historic places, which includes cemeteries, but other states may have different methods and databases. You can’t protect a cemetery if you don’t know where it is, so bringing awareness of a historic cemetery to the local and state level will give the cemetery the best chance of survival.

Graduates of a CRPT workshop, with Sarah Miller at center, kneeling in red. (Photo used with . [+] permission of S.E. Miller.)

Don’t make the mistake of thinking there are no historic cemeteries in your area. Wherever people have lived, people have died. Historic cemeteries are often neglected, but with just a small amount of effort, you can see results quickly. Cemetery preservation is a good volunteer project that honors year-round those people who helped create the towns and cities we live in. This Memorial Day, why not take some time to visit a local cemetery?

How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

Photo Courtesy of West Laurel Hill Cemetery

Preserving Our Historic Cemeteries

By Julie Williams, Staff Writer

Most of us have the mindset that “new is better.” We all want to keep up with the most modern and up-to-date trends. But in keeping this mindset, we must not forget those before us—those who paved the way to our modern trends. The focus of this article is to highlight the federal, state, and local efforts that work to protect our historic cemeteries.

Federal Efforts

The main crux of federal efforts to preserve cemeteries lies within five federal laws that focus on historic preservation in general:

The Antiquities Act of 1906: As the earliest federal historic preservation law, this prohibits the unauthorized excavation, removal, or defacement of objects of antiquity on public lands. [1].

The Historical Sites Act of 1935: This law declares that it is a national policy to preserve for public use historical sites, buildings, and objects of national significance. [1].

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966: This authorizes the National Park Service to maintain a National Register of Historic Places. When a site is listed on the register, federal agencies are required to consider the effects of their actions on the site. [1].

The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979: This act functions to regulate the excavation and removal of archaeological resources on federal or Indian land. [1].

The Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990: This law protects Native American ancestral human remains and cultural items found on federal or Indian lands. [1].

State Efforts

While all states have some laws in effect that protect historic cemeteries and burial sites to some degree, they vary widely.

In Georgia, state laws protect burial sites from disturbance. No Georgia law prohibits development around a historic cemetery, nor sets out any buffers between the development and the cemetery. Therefore, a developer whose project will not impact the actual cemetery is not required to take any action in regards to the site. Likewise, a private landowner is only required to not disturb the graves, but hold no responsibility to clean up or maintain the cemetery. [2].

Also under Georgia law, private landowners are not required to grant access to persons who are not heirs or descendants of the persons buried in the cemetery. While it is not specifically stated in a statute, Georgia case law has developed to mean that the heirs of those buried on the site have an implied easement onto the property. [2].

In Pennsylvania, laws protect historical cemeteries and burial grounds from being taken by eminent domain or water authority, unless a court approves of the action. Even so, the entity taking the land bears the cost and responsibility of relocating the graves and headstones. [3].

In 1972, Pennsylvania passed the Burial Grounds Title 9 act, which declares that “permanent lot care fund” must be established. The fund should be used for care, maintenance, and preservation of the cemetery or burial ground. [3].

In comparing these two states, it appears that Pennsylvania has taken more stringent steps in writing laws, which protect these historic sites. On the other hand, Georgia has taken a more generalized stance, by prohibiting the sites from disturbance. These two paths represent the discrepancies that lie within the different states and why some cemeteries and burial grounds are in greater despair than others.

Local Efforts

In most states, city and county governments are responsible for enforcing state laws regarding historic cemeteries. This responsibility is written in some states’ statutes, while the responsibility has been mandated by the courts in other states. Many local regulations and ordinances also work to preserve and protect these sites.

While there are laws protecting and preserving our historic cemeteries and burial grounds, the question remains as to whether they are truly enforced, and if they are enforced, to what degree? The history of this nation is bountiful and we should all make a strong effort in order to protect the resting places of those before us.

There are a number of ways that historic burial sites and many types of gravemarkers can be protected from natural weathering and deterioration:

1. If dirt and biological growth must be removed from a marker or other funerary item, always use the gentlest method possible for cleaning — preferably only clean water and a soft-bristled brush. High-pressure water spray, sandblasting, or the application of materials such as household bleach, muriatic acid and commercial stone cleaners will cause physical deterioration of stone and masonry items, and may pit and/or discolor marker surfaces. Wire-bristled brushes, sandpaper and other abrasive pads should not be used because they can scratch the finished surfaces of markers.

2. Removing vines and other plant growth from markers and other funerary materials will keep them dry and minimize the growth of lichens, mosses, mildew, etc. Remove vegetation from cracks and joints of masonry structures. Trim trees and shrubs at least 18 inches away from markers. However, take care not to damage or remove historical plantings.

3. Avoid using commercial stone cleaners, sealants or coatings on markers in an attempt to prevent deterioration or repel water. Some coatings can prevent the evaporation of moisture in stone and masonry, which will actually result in increased deterioration rather than protection of the object.

4. Herbicides and fertilizers that come in contact with markers can cause deterioration and discoloration of stone and masonry, and can corrode metal fences, plaques and statuary. Avoid using them near markers and tombs.

How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

5. Avoid mowing near gravestones and other funerary items so they will not be scraped or nicked by the machines.

6. Do not make a rubbing of a gravestone if it is in poor condition and may fracture from the pressure applied to its face. When making a rubbing, be sure that the marker is completely covered with paper and the rubbing medium will not leave any residue.

7. When cleaning up a neglected cemetery, do not discard stone fragments or other materials belonging to grave plots. These will be important for future restoration projects and for understanding and interpreting information from the burial site.

8. Repairs and emergency stabilization efforts must be “reversible” and done with proper materials and techniques. Consultation with a conservator familiar with the problems and restoration procedures used for cemeteries will assure that restoration efforts are completed in the proper manner. (If necessary, contact The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, 1156 15th Street NW, Ste. 320, Washington, D.C. 20005, http://www.conservation-us.org/about-conservation/find-a-conservator#.VE6vCPnF9We for the organization’s referral service and for a copy of Guidelines for Selecting a Conservator).

For detailed preservation/conservation information about the above, please consult the references listed in the annotated bibliography.

How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

Learn how to begin a cemetery preservation or restoration project and how to help ensure that sound choices are made to avoid harming what you seek to protect. Discussions focus on current issues in cemetery preservation, such as recording and documenting cemeteries and graveyards, undertaking preservation efforts, and exploring conservation techniques and issues.

Faculty

Debi Hacker, conservation administrator, Chicora Foundation, Inc., specializing in cemetery landscapes, including assessments and maintenance recommendations, and has experience conducting detailed recordation of both African-American and Euro-American cemeteries throughout the Southeast

Michael Trinkley, Ph.D., director, Chicora Foundation, Inc., and a stone conservator specializing in cemetery preservation, including assessments, treatments, and long-range planning, and has extensive experience working with African-American and Euro-American cemeteries in the Southeast

Evaluation Comments

“I was able to see how thoroughly one should prepare for cemetery preservation.”

“[The seminar] gave me a new way to look to preserving the cemetery. It covered more than I thought.”

“Exceeded in broad scope of topics covered and materials provided and shared.”

“I am presently responsible for planning development. Many items I hadn’t considered are now clarified and will be included.”

“All my questions were confirmed, answered, or given excellent research possibilities.”

“I got information that I can use immediately. Good hands-on information about preservation, maintenance, and the importance of inventory in the maintenance program.”

“I am leaving greatly enriched and educated. I see more clearly what I need to do and how.”

How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

Before working at St. Luke’s Historic Church & Museum, the term “cemetery preservation” was not part of my everyday vocabulary. I suspect this is true for many people. An interest in cemetery preservation seems to be something discovered rather than learned from parents or the public school system. While not often talked about, cemetery preservation is important and worthy of attention – attention that many cemeteries around the country are not receiving.

Why does cemetery preservation matter? I have struggled to answer this question because many of my reasons fall under personal opinion. I know why cemetery preservation matters to me but why should it matter to everyone? After much consideration, the answer I arrived at is that saving cemeteries is the preservation of history. It is the preservation of diverse, creative, and very personal histories. Losing a loved one is one of the most heartbreaking experiences in anyone’s life – the ways in which we memorialize these loved ones create some of the most heartfelt, emotional, and sometimes detailed records of that person’s life. History is lost every day. We often lose the important details of who someone was as a person because we focus on what they did or invented, sanitizing the humanity out of the history. Tombstones and other cemetery monuments are typically an expression of how loved ones felt about that person at the time of their death. Cemetery symbolism takes this a step further and can give us even more hints about who the person buried there was. They were more than a first and last name carved into a pretty rock.

Cemetery iconography, while it has changed and developed over the years, continues to have many recognizable symbols. The selection of these symbols for a memorial can tell us quite a bit about the person buried there. For example, even in modern tombstone design, lambs often represent children. More often than not, a tombstone with a lamb included in the design will prove to be a child. Even as words wear away, slowly erased by difficult weather conditions and the passage of time, any identifiable lambs will continue to identify that memorial as that of a child. While a weeping willow clearly suggests grief, its inclusion in tombstone culture also often represents immortality associated with the hardiness of this particular tree. It was a popular aspect of tombstone design during the late 18 th and early 19 th centuries. Furthermore, it was once popular to include the exact age of someone at the time of their death. For example, one might list their loved one as having passed at the age of 26 years, 7 months, 10 days, and 11 hours, sometimes even noting their age to the second. Thus, their exact age at their time of death has been saved into perpetuity, or as long as the memorial survives.

With tombstones, this history typically only lasts as long as the memorial. Rarely are detailed descriptions and photos recorded of cemetery monuments. Thus, the destruction of tombstones becomes the destruction of history. While cemetery desecration remains an issue in some areas, far more concerning are the effects of severe weather and human indifference. Trees, while beautiful providers of shade, often fall or drop large limbs in cemeteries experiencing severe weather. Without any interference by people, these trees and branches will continue to fall and damage memorial stones. With or without human intervention, cemeteries can still be negatively impacted.

We tend to think of tombstones and other such memorials as hardy and permanent. The truth is that these monuments are damaged all the time, especially more historic monuments which were typically made out of softer stone for easier carving by hand. We misinterpret or misunderstand the delicacy of many of these tombstones, assuming all “rock” is hardy and able to last into perpetuity. This unfortunately leads to confusion regarding proper care. On more than one occasion, I have been asked why we don’t use a pressure washer on the stones in our historic cemetery. I have had well-intentioned people inform me of their use of harsh chemicals or steel wool on tombstones they care about. These methods, while they may produce immediate results, are damaging to the long-term (and sometimes short-term) health of the monument. Pressure washers, metal, etc. are all abrasive and damaging to stone, especially those made from more delicate materials like sandstone, slate, and/or soapstone.

Today, most tombstones and cemetery monuments are made of granite, a hardier stone. While this negates some of the potential for damage by falling limbs, these monuments are just as susceptible to the abuses of their environment. Cemeteries need active attention from their communities, but they need the right kind of attention. They need someone who cares enough to cut back the vines, remove the dying trees, fill in the sinkholes, clean the tombstones (in some cases), or request professional assistance. They need well-meaning people willing to invest time in understanding the cemetery’s needs and when those needs surpass their level of experience or expertise. With thoughtful, well-researched care of our local cemeteries, we too can preserve history for future generations. We can work together to save and care for these monuments, once so lovingly installed in memorial of someone’s father, mother, sister, brother… And perhaps in compassionately caring for these physical manifestations of the community’s memory, we will understand our past in new ways and build towards a brighter and more accepting future.

Deterioration from natural forces such as weathering and uncontrolled vegetation and insensitive development threaten our historic cemeteries. The involvement of individuals and organizations with an interest and commitment to saving local history and culture is critical to protecting and preserving the state's historic cemeteries. The Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation has compiled this information to aid local efforts. DAHP does not have funds for maintenance of historic cemeteries or legal authority to acquire cemeteries or enforce laws protecting cemeteries.

How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

    . Numerous articles on the preservation of cemeteries and monuments. . Simple maintenance guide provided by Sunnyside Cemetery (Island County Cemetery District Number 2). . The Association for Gravestone Studies was founded for the purpose of furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. . This preservation guide by Gregg King is extensive covering all aspects of cemetery and headstone preservation and recording. . Very useful website for resources on cemetery preservation, headstone cleaning, and cemetery recording. A guide to basic cemetery preservation from the State of Illinois. . Quick overview of cemetery preservation issues. – From Arizona State Parks

Cemeteries are important historical assets that tell about a community’s past; they are monuments to the people who once lived in our communities. In this rapidly changing world of increased development and land purchases it is more important than ever for Kentuckians to research, find, document, photograph, map and protect family and local cemeteries.

KHS offers these programs and educational resources to help individuals and organizations in their efforts to document and preserve cemeteries:

KENTUCKY CEMETERY CENSUS

KHS encourages local history groups to conduct a comprehensive survey of all cemetery and burial sites in the state. To take part, call 502-782-8064 and ask for the cemetery preservation program or send an email to Mandy Higgins. Our census is a continuation of the work started by the Attorney General’s Office in 2000.

PIONEER CEMETERY MARKER

Families and communities can apply to designate a cemetery for early Kentucky settlers as a “pioneer” cemetery. Pioneer cemeteries receive a marker to designate their status. Application Packet (opens as PDF).

ADOPT-A-CEMETERY

Kentucky cemeteries need ongoing care. Some, abandoned over time, need major rehabilitation. Others need only light maintenance. Kentuckians can care for the cemeteries in their communities through the Adopt-a-Cemetery program. Learn how (opens as PDF).

CEMETERY PRESERVATION EDUCATION

KHS provides resources to individuals and organizations that are interested in the protection and preservation of our historic cemeteries and grave sites, including educational materials about appropriate cleaning and repairing techniques for old gravestones. Learn more: call 502-782-8064 (ask for the cemetery preservation program) or send an email to Mandy Higgins.

The Kentucky Historical Society is an agency of the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, an affiliate of the Smithsonian,
has full accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums and is a founding member of the History Relevance Campaign.

How to protect and preserve historic cemeteries

There has been a growing concern about the plight of the forgotten cemeteries that dot North Carolina’s landscape. This concern resulted in the formation in 1978 of a legislative study committee (the Abandoned Cemeteries Study Committee) to look into the conditions of abandoned graveyards and to offer recommendations for their protection and preservation.

To assess these conditions, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources coordinated an effort using private individuals and organizations to locate and record cemetery data at the county level. The findings of that assessment were reported to the General Assembly in 1981. As a result, the information-gathering program has continued as the North Carolina Cemetery Survey, and the state’s criminal and civil statutes pertaining to burial sites have been strengthened. They protect abandoned public graveyards from the threats posed by urban development, agricultural activity, lumbering operations, vandalism, and neglect.

The North Carolina Cemetery Survey

The North Carolina Cemetery Survey is a program for recording vital statistics from the state’s cemeteries. It operates at the county level and is coordinated through the State Archives at the state level. The program’s objectives are:

1. Identifying, mapping, and describing existing cemeteries in North Carolina regardless of size, type, or physical characteristics. Since vital statistics were not kept officially until 1913, the emphasis of the survey is on those graveyards with burials before that date.

2. Permanently preserving historical, genealogical, sociological, demographic, and cultural data contained in abandoned or otherwise not-cared for cemeteries, including epitaphs and photographs whenever possible.

3. Providing more recent and comprehensive survey data than that available in earlier cemetery surveys, such as the one conducted by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in the 1930s and 1940s.

General Statutes Protecting Cemeteries

G.S. 14-148 and G.S. 14-149 outline the penalties for defacing and desecrating gravesites and for plowing over or covering up graves: Violation is a misdemeanor and a Class I felony respectively. The fine is up to $500, and imprisonment is between sixty days and a year. Both penalties may result.

G.S. 65-111, G.S. 65-112 and G.S. 65-113 outline the duties of the county commissioners: They are required to keep a list of all abandoned public cemeteries on file with the register of deeds. A copy is also to be sent to the secretary of state’s office. The county commissioners are also required to take control of all abandoned public cemeteries and may appropriate whatever sums are deemed necessary for their upkeep.

G.S. 65-91 through G.S. 65-96 describe the legal means for setting up a trust fund for the upkeep of a cemetery: Money in amounts no less than $5000, may be deposited with the clerk of superior court as a perpetual trust fund for the maintenance of cemeteries. Trustees may be appointed by the clerk.

G.S. 65-106 details the proper procedure for the removal of graves, including who may disinter, move, and reinter: The party moving the gravels) must give at least thirty days, written notice to the next of kin, if known. Notice must also be published at least once a week for four successive weeks in a newspaper published in the county in which the proposed removal is to take place. Removal expense is incurred by the mover, with some expense (not over $200) to be incurred by the next of kin. The removal is performed by a funeral director under the supervision of the county commissioners and the local health director. A certificate is then filed by the mover with the register of deeds.

G.S. 65-101 and G.S. 65-102 discuss who may enter private property in order to investigate, visit, or maintain a private grave or an abandoned public cemetery: A descendant of the interred or any other person with a special interest in the site may do so. He or she must notify the landowner in writing of his or her intent and then may visit periodically during daylight hours only, with the landowner’s approval. If such approval cannot be obtained, the descendant may petition the clerk of superior court for an order allowing him or her access. After a special proceeding providing for notice and a hearing, the clerk may issue such an order, if deemed appropriate.

G.S. 70-29 through G.S. 70-33 give the procedure for notifying the proper authorities upon the discovery of unmarked remains: Anyone who discovers unmarked burials, or suspects that they are being disturbed, must notify the county medical examiner or the state archaeologist immediately. There is then a period of forty-eight hours to make arrangements for the protection or removal of the graves. The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources may obtain administrative inspection warrants for the purpose of gathering additional information as necessary.

Governing Bodies

The Office of Archives and History within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources is responsible for coordinating this program. It was begun in a few selected counties and has now expanded to include nearly all 100 of them. Each county sets up its own committee with a coordinator, and work is accomplished on a grassroots, voluntary basis, because state funds are presently unavailable. A state coordinator is employed by the Archives and Records Section to serve as a liaison between the State Archives and the county committees. The duties of the coordinator are:

1. Soliciting participation in the survey (by members of historical and genealogical societies, in particular) through speaking engagements, press releases, and correspondence as necessary.

2. Instructing cemetery committees on the use of specially designed survey forms to record the desired information about cemeteries in a county.

3. Demonstrating how to plot specific cemetery locations on United States Geological Survey maps.

4. Assisting in the preparation, recording, and transferring of all accumulated information to the State Archives.

Access the Information

Data compiled in the North Carolina Cemetery Survey are available in the Search Room of the North Carolina State Archives. The Search Room is located in Room 201 of the Archives and History/State Library Building at 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh.

Contribute

Those interested in submitting cemetery information should download the form (Professional or Citizen version), fill it out and email it to Melissa Timo. You can also mail the form to:

Some of the most sacred sites in Maryland are in impending danger due to environmental factors as well as the passage of time. Cemeteries face resource specific threats including lack of funding for maintenance and conservation as well as pressure to use the land for development. Preservation Maryland will work closely with the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites to bring much needed attention to the thousands of cemeteries throughout the state that are in disrepair, while also providing the general public with information on how to care for neglected and abandoned cemeteries.

The Problem

Some of the most sacred sites in Maryland are in impending danger due to environmental factors as well as the passage of time. Cemeteries face resource specific threats including lack of funding for maintenance and conservation as well as pressure to use the land for development. In some cases, questions of ownership also halt preservation.

The Fix

Preservation Maryland will work closely with the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites to bring much needed attention to the thousands of cemeteries throughout the state that are in disrepair, while also providing the general public with information on how to care for neglected and abandoned cemeteries. We will also organize volunteer cleanup days at cemeteries around the state.

Updates

JULY 2019

Preservation Maryland’s Cemetery Documentation Specialist, Caroline Herritt, working with the State Highway Administration to document 100 cemeteries across the state will give an update and demonstration about her work in Frederick in July.

MARCH 2019

Working with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration, Preservation Maryland has embarked on an ambitious project to document 100 cemeteries and burial sites across the state.

May 2018

Through a Six-to-Fix partnership, Preservation Maryland is pleased to offer video recordings of the annual conference of the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites that was was held on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at the Shepard-Pratt Conference Center in Baltimore County.