3 Cemetery Books
Cemeteries are an important part of any society. It is where loved one’s rest. And with them, of course, the history their lives encapsulate. As a result, graveyards are, by their nature, storehouses of community information. Who, what and when are noted on each tombstone, mausoleum memorial and urn that hold their remains.
Burial grounds are important for so many reasons. Along with being the final resting place of our beloved family and friends, they also represent the cultural beliefs and customs of the regions where they are located.
Several books on that subject have been written. Here are three we thought might be of interest.
Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography By Douglas Keister
This book offers history along with images of a wide variety of common and not-so-common cemetery symbols. It also offers an in-depth examination of stone relics and the personal and intimate details they display-flora and fauna, religious icons, society symbols, and final impressions of how the deceased wished to be remembered. This practical field guide is compact and portable and may be perfect for those interested in family histories and genealogical research. Details.
The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses By Paul Koudounaris
Death is not always the last taboo. For centuries, religious establishments constructed decorated ossuaries and charnel houses that stand as masterpieces of art created from human bone. These unique structures have been pushed into the footnotes of history; they were part of a dialogue with death that is now silent.
The sites in this specially photographed original study range from the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Palermo, where the living would visit mummified or skeletal remains and lovingly dress them; to the Paris catacombs; to fantastic bone-encrusted creations in Austria, Cambodia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Italy, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and elsewhere. Details.
The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History Through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds By Marilyn Yalom, Reid S. Yalom (Photographs)
A sweeping history of America as seen through its gravestones, graveyards, and burial practices, stunningly illustrated with eighty black-and-white photographs.
Cemeteries and burial grounds, as illuminated by an acclaimed cultural historian, are unique windows onto our religious, ethnic, and deeply human history as Americans.
The dedicated mother-son team of Marilyn and Reid Yalom visited hundreds of cemeteries to create The American Resting Place, following a coast-to-coast trajectory that mirrors the vast historical pattern of American migration.
Yalom’s incisive, often poignant exploration of gravestone inscriptions reveal changing ideas about death and personal identity, and demonstrate how class and gender play out in stone. Rich particulars include the story of one seventeenth-century Bostonian who amassed a thousand pairs of gloves in his funeral-going lifetime, the unique burial rites and funerary symbols found in today’s Native American cultures, and a “lost” Czech community brought uncannily to life in Chicago’s Bohemian National Columbarium. Details.