Study and analysis of gravestones from the Old Willimantic Cemetery

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:History

Document 1

In a nutshell, gravestone itself tribute and importantly create a lasting memory to the deceased. Furthermore, although an increasing proportion of individuals in the current times buy their headstones before they die, a majority of the stones primarily designed and purchased by the deceased family for their loved ones. As time goes, different thoughts and interpretations about death and dying have come about; instead of placing personal items and goods with the dead, a large number of people is most likely to incorporate that reference in the person’s life on their stones as an alternative to within the caskets (Baker 100). About the gravestone, epitaphs, pictures, shape, and size of the stone play a huge role in telling a story about the person buried under them. For this research, then, I sought to answer the following question: “How different themes impacted to cemetery gravestones design between 18th and 19th century?” Importantly, in the following discussion, we will get to understand how advances in technology change what we decide to include in these memorial gravestones. Hypothesis How changes in social relationships and religious views led to cemetery headstone design in Old Willimantic Cemetery during the 19th century. Research Methods a) Sampling The content of this study importantly arrived at after the analysis of a total of 40 gravestones from the Old Willimantic Cemetery. Importantly, 10 of this gravestone were from 10 smaller. Rural cemeteries and 30 of them from more prominent, urban cemeteries. As if not enough, about sampling, the data analysed comprised of anything that was attached to the stone.

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Importantly, I selected both the new and old gravestones after obtaining crucial information from the workers in Old Willimantic Cemetery. Since different stones comprise of varying information, I chose a stone that encompassed what I was focusing. An informed selection made the study successful (Deetz 106). b) A diachronic study of Tombstone styles (Seriation) With this method, the most important thing was to have sufficient sample of tombstones from each time unit within a specified period. I selected different gravestones from the cemetery depending on the time when they had been installed there. Results Although the stones used in the study varied from one to another, many themes were present. For instance, the century or sooner the period in which the tombstone was created played a considerable role in defining the kind of information that is included in the gravestone.

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Nevertheless, five themes were universally available regardless of the era in which a tombstone was constructed. The manner in which these themes were used, however, changed from one gravestone to another. This was mainly because of the changes in cultural and technological emphasis in various aspects of life. This majorly because of the rapid advances in technology. Importantly, the time of death also plays a very significant role in determining the amount of information to be included in the gravestone. Moreover, tombstones of past few centuries made use of symbols. The standard symbols are flowers or crosses and rosaries or lambs. Similarly, the modern gravestones have been also more elaborate in the use of sketches and photographs on the stones. Whether it came through stories, lyrics or songs, the living will live to interpret it by themselves.

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Through the analysis of the gravestones, other themes that emerged during the study were matched to their respective headstones. Resurrection was associated with the cherubs and the eternal life after death. Engravings of the deceased were categorised as memorisation of the death, hence the theme of death/time, memory, and resurrection (Lorain 136). The bar graph below displays the percentage of colonial gravestones that reflect the major themes during the 18th and 19th century. Porter. Archaeological Test Excavations in the Center Church Crypt: The First 100 Years of the United States Department of Agriculture. Federal Government], 1996. Print Baker, Gladys L. Wayne D. The American Agricultural Press 1819-1860. New York: Columbia UP, 1941. Print. Deetz, James. In small things forgotten: an archaeology of early American life. The Connecticut Academy of Arts & Sciences, 1987.

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