Thoughts for Thursday (on Friday): Cemetery Image Problems

This is the followup to my previous Thoughts for Thursday in which I asked you about how a particular cemetery near me can improve its image in the public sphere after a spat of illegal dumping, attempted thievery, and vandalism.

Thank you to those who commented on the post or Facebook and left great suggestions.  Many suggested to create a Friends Group, which I think would help especially if this group had 501c3 status as it would open the cemetery to a world of grants that it does not currently qualify for as a 501c13.  The cemetery board currently hosts at least one cleanup a year, and hopefully a Friends Group could add to that.  Also, many cemetery boards (for those cemeteries that do have boards) require that those on the board have a plot for themselves in the cemetery.  I do not know if that is a requirement for this cemetery board, but overall, I find that a limit to a board’s potential.  I’m not in a position to buy a plot for myself anywhere, why should that prevent me from lending aid where it is needed?  Why should that prevent a descendent of someone buried in the cemetery from doing the same?

Here are some of my suggestions.

The cemetery is currently active amongst the dog-walking community as there are many paved and dirt roads to walk on, but I think it could definitely be more dog-walker-friendly.  There are no posts with poop-scoop bags or waste receptacles.  Installing these would definitely be a sign to dog walkers that they are welcome with their pets (with some rules, of course, to protect the stones and dogs too).  I think taking a page from the Woodlands Trust for Historic Preservation in Philadelphia would be beneficial.  The Woodlands has previously advertised dog-walking meetups on different mornings so that community members can get to know one another, dogs can socialize, and all involved can maybe find a dog-walking partner.  It also shows that the cemetery is a nice and welcome environment.

There are many old trees on the property, and while some could and do pose a problem for stones (and I don’t see that changing), why not make the best of them.  Get a tree-loving volunteer to lead a tour about the different tree species in the cemetery.  With trees come birds, why not a tour or event for bird watchers?  Both will attract a different group of people into the cemetery’s borders.  I also think that local scouting troops could get involved with the creation of bird houses for some of these cemetery trees, and it would definitely associate the cemetery with something positive.

Also, I think it would be good to get someone to volunteer their time to give a tour focused on the stones’ iconography.  This particular cemetery has quite a range, and if the cemetery partnered with a local historical society or two, the event could be quite popular.

Finally, I think it would be good to have an actual class on resetting stones, rather than having stones reset only at the yearly cleanup by those who know how to do it.  In this way not only do more stones get reset over the course of the day but class participants can take what they learned and apply it to their local cemeteries.

Now not all of these are meant to be money makers, although I do think that some of these event could have a fee associated with them to participate.  Any bit helps.  I do think that all of these will help improve the image of the cemetery in the surrounding public’s eye, and hope that by becoming an appreciated place, negative events that have been happening at and to it in recent months will subside.

These suggestions are not limited to just this cemetery alone.  I hope that you will be able to apply something I have suggested to a cemetery near you.

Have an idea that I may have missed? Let me know, and as always I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for reading!

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Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here’s some news that I think you shouldn’t miss, hope you enjoy!

Tale of Richard III’s skeleton is filled with drama-and it’s not over yet: I’ve discussed the discovery of King Richard III’s skeleton under a parking lot on Shouldn’t Miss News before, now there is going to be a documentary on the project as well as Y-chromosome testing to definitively prove it’s him (although they don’t doubt it given the results of the mitochondrial testing done prior to their announcement that it was in fact him).

Anthropologist aims to uncover inscriptions on historic headstones: Okay, so this one is not from this week, but I just found it and absolutely love the possibility of using this new program to read very old and worn stones.  I would also love to see this expand to other geographical areas as it develops.

Help wanted: Stonehenge general manager: Need a job? How about working at Stonehenge? Knowledge of Druidic rituals a plus, but you will also be leading the staff of the new visitor center and its volunteers.

Paris cultural center welcomes lawn-mowing sheep: Not only will it cut down on gasoline usage and noise pollution, those at the center hope that the sheep will be viewed as an added attraction by potential visitors.

Preservation Week: Pass It On: April 21-27 is Preservation Week. Click on the link for more info about activities pertaining to the preservation of museum and library collections.


For more stories, head on over to Bricks + Mortar’s blog for the This Week post.

Posted in Archaeology, Cemetery, Historic Preservation, Museums, Newsworthy, Place, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Photograph Revealed: Origins

This is the companion and conclusion to the post I reblogged from Three Months By Car on Wednesday. Hope you have enjoyed a peak into my public history project!

Three Months By Car

In A Photograph Revealed, you saw the following picture of Dotty, Edie, and Ev, ready for their three-month road trip.


I also told you that this photo made its way to me via email from all the way in Sweden.

So just how did this photo end up in Sweden and then find its way back to me?

For that you can (and I definitely do) thank a number of people.  First, is Selma Nilsson, and second, is her brother Janne Nilsson.

Selma Nilsson and her brother Janne Nilsson came to America from Sweden in the late 1800s and spent some time in Elgin, Illinois.  Janne met his future wife, Augusta, there and after they married, they returned to Sweden.  Selma stayed in America where she met and married John Stohl.  They would go on to have four children, including Edith and Evelyn Stohl.

Selma kept in contact with…

View original post 276 more words

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A Photograph Revealed

Reblogged from Three Months By Car, a blog I run pertaining to public history project I’m working on.  Even if you don’t follow me there (although I’d love it if you did), I thought you’d might be interested in its most recent development.


Three Months By Car has been a part of my life for three years now.  If you’ve been with me from the beginning of this blog (or have caught up since discovering me), you know that I began my research on the 1929 road trip taken by Dotty Guyott, Edith Stohl, and Evelyn Stohl back in 2010 as a part of my master’s thesis.

Up until last week, the only pictures of the trip that I had ever seen were those included in a news article written about them after they returned from the trip.  That paper, as you can imagine, has yellowed and turned brittle.  It is going on 84 years old now.

Last week I received an email that began…

Isn´t it very, very strange that we, who live many thousand miles away from you, in an old album has a picture of three young women who are just about to start a very long roadtrip. Evelyn Stohl at the steeringwheel, at her side Edith Stohl and Dorothy Guyott!

Needless to say, I was extremely excited about this email and the picture.  I know that I have been dragging the picture’s reveal for about a week via Facebook and Twitter, and thank you so much for participating in the Mystery Pictures feature.  Without further ado, here is the photo.


So if you caught the opening line of the email you may now be asking…what do you mean by “thousands of miles away?”  Roughly 3,650 miles away, in an old photo album was this photo.  So what is that far away?


So how did this photo end up in Sweden, and how did it make its way to my inbox?  Be sure to check back in on Thursday for the conclusion to this post and also the reverse side of the photo, which I think is pretty neat too.

For a direct link to this post: A Photograph Revealed

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Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here are five shouldn’t miss news articles from the week, enjoy!

Museum exhibitions come to movie theaters: Although I think it’s great that this has been and will open up museum exhibitions to new audiences, much like showing operas at the movies have, I am skeptical.  What about those people who breeze through versus those that stay and read every label possible?  I’ll have to go and see for myself, but I don’t think I’ll become a convert.  There is just something about actually going to a museum.  What do you think?

Mysterious sundial may be secret to Viking navigation: This partial wooden dial was discovered in 1948 and thought to be more along the lines of a traditional compass, but new research suggests it may have been used to help find latitude and longitude.

Campaign to Crowdsource Ideas for Saving American Folk Art Museum Building: You may have heard by now that the Museum of Modern Art next door to this former museum building wants to tear it down for their expansion (to go with their aesthetic) rather than save this interesting and wonderful architecture.  Many, unhappy with this decision, have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #FolkMoMA to suggest ways to save the building.  What do you think of MoMA’s decision?

Hartland Cemetery Dug Up: Back in 2011, a Vermont home/landowner wanted the cemetery on his property moved closer to the street.  He cited privacy reasons in his request.  I’m not a huge fan of moving cemeteries for any reason, although I can see why it is necessary in some instances, but this is so not one of them.  I wonder if 100 years ago there was a right-of-way written into the deed that dropped off over the years from newly written ones, even though it was still valid.  Anyhow, it happened, and the archaeologists that were required to be there to make sure all remains were moved are now ready to reveal their findings.  What do you think about this?

Thousands of Roman Artifacts Have Just Been Sitting Under London’s Financial District:  I think the article title says it all, but I think it’s really cool that among the 10,000 or so well-preserved finds thus far are pieces of Roman writing tablets.


For more, head on over to Bricks + Mortar and read this week’s edition of This Week.

Posted in Archaeology, Cemetery, Museums, Newsworthy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts for Thursday: Cemetery Image Problems

Today’s Thoughts for Thursday is on cemetery image problems, and no I don’t mean problems with pictures that you take in a cemetery.

Do you know of cemeteries plagued by vandalism, illegal dumping, theft, or worse?  I’m sure that for many of you, the answer is yes.

There is a cemetery not too far away from where I live that has dealt with all of these issues in recent weeks.  As I enjoy this cemetery, and respect those that run it, I am not going to say the name of this particular cemetery or give its location, but suffice to say, this place has a big image problem right now.

Like many landlocked, older cemeteries, most of the plots have been purchased, and new land acquisition just isn’t going to happen.  So money really isn’t coming in, making camera surveillance to track vandalism and other goings-on too costly an option for this largish-for-here cemetery (25,000 burials).  The purchase of a gate at the cemetery’s expense, which some local residents are calling for in light of recent events, is also too costly.  The cemetery has never had a gate, and even if there were a gate, it would only deter some negative activities because it would only prevent vehicles from getting in.

Being a larger cemetery, there are many trees (some older), paved roads, dirt roads, and many pretty gravestones.  I feel there is a lot of potential here.

How would you convince the cemetery’s neighbors and the rest of the general public that the cemetery isn’t a bad place, that it’s just experiencing a rough patch because of the actions of outside individuals, and that it is a place worth helping out and investing in?

As always I look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in Cemetery, Place | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here are some articles that I think you shouldn’t miss, enjoy!

Pluto’s Gate to Hell Uncovered in Turkey: This once vaporous site was found at a dig in Hierapolis, where two years ago Saint Philip’s tomb was reportedly discovered by the same archaeologist.  Apparently it’s a very happening site, and if both finds are accurate, how awesome for that archaeologist and team.

Salvagers show off dazzling bounty from 17th-century Spanish shipwreck: The Buen Jesus y Nuestra Senora del Rosario bound for Spain with numerous treasures went down in 1622.  The galleon went down with 7 other ships off the coast of Florida during a hurricane.  Twenty other ships in the fleet made it back to Spain.  The ship was discovered in 1965, but only recently recovered.  Read the article for more on the finds.

World Heritage Site ripped up by quarry: Reports have surfaced that part of the Nazca Lines in Peru were torn up by equipment used by a nearby limestone quarry.  What part exactly has not been specified.  I think a flyover would help determine that, don’t you?


The following two are both blog posts from Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast who I mentioned in my latest Thoughts for Thursday as having recently allowed someone to come onto the property with a metal detector for a one-time detecting opportunity.  The first post is a guest post from the man who did the metal detecting and the second is from Michelle of Belle Grove after the finds were analyzed.

The Hunt and Artifacts Results are in!

I’m so happy for Belle Grove that they had a positive and successful experience with some great finds pertaining to the plantation’s history.


For more, head on over to Bricks + Mortar’s blog for the latest This Week post.

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History Day

Have you heard of History Day? I have, but had you asked me about it prior to late 2009, my answer would have been ‘no’.  As a history enthusiast (and a museum, historic preservation, public history, archaeology, historic cemetery, etc. enthusiast) learning about History Day in grad school was sort of a let down.  Why?

National History Day is a “year-long academic program focused on historical research for 6th to 12th grade students” in which students create a project centered on a theme.  This year’s theme is “Turning Points in History: People, Ideas, Events”.  Students pick a topic of their choosing that goes with this theme and create an exhibit, website, paper, documentary or performance (entering as an individual or as a group).  Think Science Fairs, but for History. Awesome!

For someone finding out about it in grad school, it was disappointing to know that I had missed out on the chance to participate as a student.  As students in my particular grad program, we had the chance to volunteer during our first year with registration, a door guard (everyone wants a peek at the competition), or as a time-keeper.  During our second year, we had the opportunity to judge entries.  I judged documentaries that year.

The following year, I found myself in Ohio, which is where History Day started in 1974.  I knew I had to participate again and once again I judged documentaries, but did run-off judging for exhibitions (only two people from each category can go to Nationals, so if there are multiple judging groups, a run-off is needed for the top two projects in each group–there is also an alternate chosen for Nationals).

I had thoroughly enjoyed my History Day experiences, so this year, living in my third state in four years, it was a no-brainer that I would want to do History Day again.  So I contacted those in charge of Rhode Island History Day and today I judged exhibits.  I am always so impressed by the creativity of the entrants and the enthusiasm they show, not to mention the quality!  To see so many of today’s young people interested in history is a wonderful thing.

There are still many states that have yet to hold their respective state competitions, so if History Day sounds like it would be a fun thing to judge, contact your state coordinator to find out how to get involved.

In future years, maybe you’ll see me in your state.  It’s now a goal of mine to get to all of the state competitions…only 47 left to go (plus DC).

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Place Bucket List (South Edition)

This post is the sixth in my Place Bucket List series inspired by Adventures in Preservation, which asked readers what buildings were on our bucket lists.  I’ll admit, I know little about this area too.  When I list cities, it’s usually because there are numerous sites within the city that I want to see.

*Note: The regions I have given these states in this and upcoming posts are how I have come to rationalize them for this purpose (and to prevent any one post from being too long), not necessarily how these regions are defined by any government entity.


  • The Alamo
  • Johnson Space Center
  • Natural Bridge Caverns
  • Galveston
  • San Jacinto Monument and Museum


  • Little Rock
  • Crater of Diamonds State Park
  • Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park
  • Devil’s Den State Park


  • New Orleans
  • Baton Rouge
  • Natchitoches
  • Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park


  • Vicksburg National Military Park
  • Shiloh National Military Park
  • Natchez


  • Birmingham
  • Montgomery
  • US Space and Rocket Center
  • Old Cahawba

Like I wrote at the beginning of this post, I don’t know a lot about this region, so let me know if there is something that I should add to this list.

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Shouldn’t Miss News of the Week

Here are some articles from this week that I think you shouldn’t miss. Enjoy!

Locals Only: U.K. Antique Shop Bans Tourists: If you live more than 30 miles from this shop, you aren’t welcome.  It isn’t about keeping local historical items within the community, it’s a shipping cost issue.  I would just make the customer pay for shipping or find a way to bring a large item home themselves.  What do you think?

An interior shot; this place is huge.

I’d be very sad if one of my favorite antique shops made that rule; I live over 5 hours away from it.

First love child of human, Neanderthal believed found:  No, this isn’t about an episode of Bones that aired within the last few weeks.  It’s about skeletal remains found in Italy that have been analyzed and reveal a Neanderthal mother and a modern human father.  Both groups lived in the region 40,000 to 30,000 years ago.

WeHo Wants to Landmark Tower Records But Isn’t Sure It Can:  The West Hollywood preservation commission knows that the building is historic, but thinks it has integrity issues as the red and yellow signage that was so iconic of Tower Records is gone.  Check out the two pictures in the article, it looks to have some extra windows as well.  What do you think about the following quote from the article, “As one commissioner explained, ‘it’s always tricky dealing with retail locations because we’re really talking about designating not so much the building, but the tenancy of the building'”?

No More Generic Lady of the House:  Although the blog post is geared towards museum institutions/historic sites, and I know not all of you work in that field, I think it’s well worth a read.  I’m sure many of you have experienced a historic house tour where you learned very little about the women living in the house.  What are some of the best tours you have been on that include women’s history?  One of mine has to be Clouds Hill Victorian Mansion in Warwick, RI.  The woman who lived there was the first Woman Fire Chief in the World.

Stonehenge to get virtual 360-degree cinema to allow visitors to step inside the ancient circle again: With the exception of the solstices and equinoxes, visitors to Stonehenge haven’t been allowed within 100 feet of the stone circle, for fear of erosion issues, since 1977.  The 32′ high by 100′ in circumference landscape wall will be a part of a new £27 million information center to be built about one mile from Stonehenge.  You can read more about the other aspects of the center in the article.


For more, check out Bricks + Mortar’s This Week post.

Posted in Archaeology, Historic Preservation, Museums, Newsworthy, Place, Preservation, Protecting Place, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments