Saturday, March 22, 2008

Folk Markers and African-American Cemeteries

I have begun the process of locating cemeteries for my thesis. I now have 3 cemeteries spread out across 2 counties, and a few more possible locations. My most recent search has turned up a couple of very well made folk markers. Both are made of concrete, but differ in form and decoration. So far the presence of these type of markers appears to be a characteristic of African-American cemeteries in this area.

So what is a folk marker? As I am using the term it refers to a marker made out of locally available materials, commonly concrete, by either the relatives of the deceased or a local individual who specializes in these type of markers. They can be less expensive than commercially produced quarried stone markers; however, they also allow for the expression of motifs and shapes which generally have not been available in commercial markers. Here are a couple of examples:

This is a close-up of what I am interpreting as a rose which was drawn in the wet concrete of this marker. This is on a flat, concrete vault. An identical image was drawn on the cast-concrete headstone. On both parts of this marker the lettering and imagery are well executed.

The second marker is a bit different, it is cast in the form of a cross, painted white, and decorated with reflectors. It is in a different cemetery than the first marker. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A little bit about your author and this blog...

For the first post in a new blog an introduction seems to be in order. So, without further ado:

I'm a Master's student majoring in anthropology with a focus on historic archaeology. A lifelong interest in history has led to a thesis on cemeteries. African-American cemeteries to be precise, although I'm interested in cemeteries in general. My approach is, perhaps, a bit different in that I am focusing less on headstones (although they remain an important component of my studies) and more on the use of landscape and materials in a space designated for the burial/memorialization of the deceased.

This blog is an outgrowth of my interest. I'll most likely post the occasional status report on thesis research should there be interest. My primary purpose in writing this blog, however, is to share interesting information I come across. There are many amateur historians who may not have access to academic materials such as professional journals. In addition there are plenty of genealogical researchers who do invaluable service to researchers of all sorts by recording and making available cemetery information. Through this blog I will make available anything of interest I come across.

So, for the first entry, I will end with a mention of the Association for Gravestone Studies ( The AGS makes available for purchase several excellent guides to cemetery preservation and recording. In addition, they publish Markers, a scholarly journal, as well as organizing an annual conference. While there is a strong emphasis on New England, the AGS continues to expand in geographic area. Most definitely worth checking out. Sphere: Related Content