Archaeologists, historians, genealogists, community groups, and cemetery enthusiasts all over the world have recognized the historical value of gravestones for studying identity, social relationships, tradition, practice and choice, grief and emotion, self-representation, symbolism, trade and craft production – the possibilities are endless.
There are a lot of people doing great work recording funerary monuments but very little access to the data afterwards. This limits historical research by restricting sample size and comparative studies, but it also results in the constant repetition of work that has already been done. A rich historical record already exists, if only it was accessible.
The Monumental Archive Project (MAP) will act as an open database of historic cemeteries to:
1) preserve and provide free access to existing records;
2) stimulate new research and engagement with historic cemeteries (an at-risk heritage resource);
3) establish collaborative networks and discussions between diverse interest groups.
To use the resources, read about the collections and view or download the archives. Read our blog to see some of the stories that emerge from the records, and learn how to contribute records. Contact us to tell us about your research, to guest blog, or to access more information!
Katherine Cook completed a BA in Anthropology and History and an MA in Anthropology at McMaster University. During that time, she worked with Dr. Aubrey Cannon on monumental records from Cambridgeshire, UK, and on a thesis project that used digital technology to record and reconstruct a local historic cemetery (Hamilton Cemetery, Ontario).
She completed her PhD at the University of York (UK). Her thesis employed burial grounds and commemorative monuments in the British Atlantic to explore the construction and negotiation of identity, family and community in the Caribbean between the 17th and 20th centuries.
During this time, the inaccessibility of records, the lack of sharing of resources and collaboration, and frequent redundancy in recording efforts pushed her to not only make her own database openly available, but also build a platform to make it easy for others to do the same.
This project was developed through participation in the Digital Archaeology Institute at Michigan State University.