Thursday, December 15, 2011

Historic St. Peter Cemetery excavated in French Quarter, New Orleans, LA

A portion of the historic St. Peter's Cemetery underneath the French Quarter in New Orleans, LA was excavated over the summer.  The excavations were triggered by the construction of a swimming pool in a new condo development.  This Times-Picayune article has some of the details.  The comments are particularly interesting. 

St. Peter's Cemetery was the first cemetery (there may be older burial places, for example along levees or underneath the church/cathedral), established in 1725.  When it was established it was outside the city, however, as the city grew it was eventually swallowed up by what is now the French Quarter.  It was officially closed in the late 18th century and by the early 19th century the land was being re-developed for residential and commercial use.  The burials were not moved and remain underneath the modern French Quarter.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

NCPTT Publishes Disaster Response Guidelines for Historic Cemeteries

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) has published a short article listing guidelines on what to do when a disaster (such as a tornado) strikes historic cemeteries.  The first step is - take a deep breath and realize the damage is done.  You have time to fully assess and restore the situation.  Good advice - it's a bad idea to jump in with a chainsaw and dumptruck, downed trees and hanging limbs can be dangerous, and that chunk of marble you think is beyond recovery might be salvageable once you really take a look at it.  Go slow and do it right!  Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

George Mason University Offers History Course with a Graveyard Twist

George Mason University professor Dr. Mills Kelly offers a history course he calls “Dead in Virginia”.  During the course students are required to locate a local cemetery and research it, finding as much information as they can.  They also document the cemetery and put all their findings up on MyCemetery.org so they will be accessible to geneaologists and other researchers. 

The quote from the syllabus is amusing to me, given my background in archaeology:  “"This course is not your normal historical methods course. . . . In this class you will get your hands, your shoes and probably your pants dirty."   Nothing wrong with a little dirt!  Sounds like a fun course.  I took something similar as part of my undergraduate coursework, a mortuary anthropology course that involved a couple of research projects.  We had a relatively free choice of projects, I chose to undertake a project comparing markers in two local cemeteries.  Little did I realize that I’d end up continuing in cemetery studies!

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