Learning more about Cemeteries – Useful Organisations

I’ve been meaning to write this post since I started this blog really. I hope this list will help those who are looking for more information and like-minded researchers.

I’m going to put them here in alphabetical order:

Association for Gravestone Studies

This is actual a pretty good place to start! Cemeteries have a longer history of research and conservation in the states than they do in Europe, this is probably partly due to the greater appreciation of historical archaeology in America, but also a great deal of work has been done by genealogical societies and historical societies. The Association for Gravestone Studies is a non-profit organisation which for the best part of 40 years has been working to ‘foster appreciation of the cultural significance of gravestones and burial grounds through their study and preservation’. Membership includes a tonne of great benefits, including subscription to two publications – AGS Quarterly and the annual journal, Markers. There’s also an yearly conference – It’s in Massachusetts this year, June 23-28th. Next year’s conference will be in Cincinnati, Ohio. For students there will be scholarships available – so get applying for next year!

Association for the Study of Death and Society

The ASDS was created to overcome the disciplinary boundaries within academia, and the traditional separation of research from practice, which had been hampering death studies in the UK. The ASDS aims to improve interdisciplinary working – through an academic journal, conferences and networking opportunities. Membership to the ASDS is very reasonably priced (especially for Early Career Researchers – check out the student/unwaged/under £15K PA price) and includes subscription to Mortality journal – which normally costs £112 a year alone. Sadly I have not yet been able to attend a DDD (Death, Dying and Disposal) conference, as DDD12 is in Romania – at the same time as a huge event at the museum I’m working at. Hopefully I’ll be able to go in 2017 (the conference is held every 2 years).

Cemetery Research Group

An organisation I hold close to my heart, because of all of the wonderful help and support I have received, especially from Dr Julie Rugg and colloquium attendees. Based at the University of York the CRG ‘aims to expand an understanding of current and past burial culture in the UK and internationally, by studying the ways in which social, emotional and religious concerns have interacted with economic and political imperatives to frame burial practice.’ The group has an annual colloquium which brings together researchers from across disciplines to share their work. This year will be my fourth colloquium and I can’t wait to see everyone again, I also hope to see some of you in York on May 15th! The website is great resource, including abstracts of all previous colloquium papers since 2003, and information about research.

The Victorian Society

Sorry for the continued UK-centric focus – I can only write about what I know! The Victorian Society was founded to champion the preservation of Victorian and Edwardian buildings and has been very influential in ensuring the survival of many buildings of architectural importance. Their support for cemetery buildings and monuments is well noted, and their publications are full of useful information regarding ecclesiastical and funerary architecture. Membership includes 3 issues of The Victorian magazine a year, and also the journal Studies in Victorian Architecture and Design, plus the opportunity to attend talks, study days and visits all over the UK.

Other useful organisations:

Why not join your local cemetery friends group for a chance to get hands on? Even if you live further afield you can still join to support your favourite cemetery! In the UK you may be able to find a local group via the National Federation of Cemetery Friends. In Europe more widely the Association of Significant Cemeteries in Europe might be a good place to start. There are cemetery friends groups and trusts all over the world though so a google search will probably turn up something near to you!

I’m always looking for new organisations to connect with, even if I can only sign up for an online newsletter, so if you know of a group doing good work, please give them a shout out in the comments!!


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