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Association for Gravestone Studies

Association for Gravestone Studies Collection
1975-2008

Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to the study and preservation of gravestones of all periods and styles. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the AGS sponsors conferences, workshops and exhibits, and publishes an annual journal, Markers, and quarterly bulletin. Their mission is to promote the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives, expand public awareness of the significance of historic grave markers, and encourage individuals and groups to record and preserve gravestones.

The AGS Collection consists of the central records of the organization plus a growing number of photographic archives of gravestone art donated by members and associates. Offering critical documentation of gravestones, tombs, and cemeteries throughout the country, but especially New England.

Collections include:

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Gift of the Association for Gravestone Studies, 2009-2017
Connect to another siteThe AGS publications, Markers
and Newsletter of the AGS are digitized and available online through Credo
Subjects
  • Sepulchral monuments
  • Stone carving
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies

Association for Gravestone Studies

Association for Gravestone Studies Ephemera Collection
1788-1939
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 651
Image of Lamprey and Dickey business card
Lamprey and Dickey business card

Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the Association promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives. To raise public awareness about the significance of historic gravemarkers and the issues surrounding their preservation, the AGS sponsors conferences and workshops, publishes both a quarterly newsletter and annual journal, Markers, and has built an archive of collections documenting gravestones and the memorial industry.

The AGS Ephemera Collections contains a mix of materials relating to gravestones and the slate and marble industries. Most of the items relate to the marble and slate industries in Western Massachusetts and adjacent areas in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Subjects
  • Marble industry and trade
  • Slate industry
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies
  • Fair Haven Marble and Marbleized Slate Co
  • Farr Alpaca Co
Types of material
  • Business cards
  • Circular letters
  • Ephemera
  • Memorial cards

Association for Gravestone Studies

Association for Gravestone Studies Book Collection
1812-2005
269 items (14 linear feet)
Call no.: RB 004

Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the Association promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives. To raise public awareness about the significance of historic gravemarkers and the issues surrounding their preservation, the AGS sponsors conferences and workshops, publishes both a quarterly newsletter and annual journal, Markers, and has built an archive of collections documenting gravestones and the memorial industry.

The AGS Books Collection contains scarce, out of print, and rare printed works on cemeteries and graveyards, epitaphs and inscriptions, and gravemarkers, with an emphasis on North America. The AGS Books Collection also includes the AGS publication, Markers. The collection is divided into three series: Series 1 (Monographs and Offprints), Series 2 (Theses and Dissertations), and Series 3 (Markers).

Subjects
  • Cemeteries
  • Epitaphs
  • Gravestones
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies

Benes, Peter

Peter Benes Collection
ca.1975-1986
1 box (1 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 017
Image of Soule Fishwing
Soule Fishwing

Peter Benes might be called the father of the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS). In 1976, he organized a meeting in Dublin, New Hampshire, of people interested in colonial gravestones, naming the group the Dublin Seminar. Following a committee meeting in December 1976, the group met again in the summer 1977 to organize as the AGS. Benes served as Treasurer in 1977 and Archives Officer in 1978. He received the Forbes Award of the AGS in 1979 for his role in founding the organization and in recognition of the contributions made to gravestone studies by his first book, The Masks of Orthodoxy: Folk Gravestone Carving in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, 1689-1805 (1977). He is currently (2009) Director of the Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife at Boston University.

The Benes Collection contains 2,826 black and white photographic prints documenting a majority of the eighteenth century grave markers in southeastern Massachusetts, taken for his book The Masks of Orthodoxy. The images were taken in Plymouth and surrounding counties.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
  • Stone carving--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies
  • Benes, Peter
Types of material
  • Photographs

Beron, Alex

Alex Beron Collection
ca.1985-1992
3 boxes (4.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 038

Alex Beron, Jr., was a member of the Association for Gravestone Studies and a photographer of New England gravestones.

The Beron collection consists of a many hundred color photographic prints of gravestones in Massachusetts and Connecticut, arranged town by town, and taken primarily in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Connecticut
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
Types of material
  • Photographs

Calidonna, Frank

Frank Calidonna Photograph Collection
1991
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 021
Image of Charles A. Jones monument, 1858
Charles A. Jones monument, 1858

A teacher at the New York State School for the Deaf since the 1970s, Frank Calidonna is a professional photographer based in Rome, N.Y. A long-time member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, Calidonna has a long standing interest in Victorian cemeteries and, among other projects, made a photographic study of the Victorian Mount Cemetery in Rochester, N.Y., in 1991.

The Calidonna Collection contains 55 black and white prints (5×7″) taken of monuments and gravestones in Mount Hope Cemetery, ca.May 1991, documenting the stylistic variation, ranging from high Victorian to relatively recent. The collection also includes two brochures for Mount Hope.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--New York
  • Mount Hope Cemetery (Rochester, N.Y.)

Cemetery Inscriptions Collection

Cemetery Inscriptions Collection
1902-2005
4 boxes (6 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 669

Founded in 1977, the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) is an international organization dedicated to furthering the study and preservation of gravestones. Based in Greenfield, Mass., the Association promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives. To raise public awareness about the significance of historic gravemarkers and the issues surrounding their preservation, the AGS sponsors conferences and workshops, publishes both a quarterly newsletter and annual journal, Markers, and has built an archive of collections documenting gravestones and the memorial industry.

Consisting of self-published and limited-run compilations of gravestone transcriptions from historical cemeteries, the AGS Cemetery Inscriptions Collection offers rich documentation of epitaphs and memorial language, with an emphasis on colonial and early national-era in New England and Ohio. The collection is arranged by state and town.

Subjects
  • Gravestones
  • Inscriptions
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies

Colburn, Paul

Paul and Olive Colburn Collection
1894-2001
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 860
Image of Jonathan Dow marker, Eastern Cemetery, Portland, Me.
Jonathan Dow marker, Eastern Cemetery, Portland, Me.

Husband and wife Paul Francis and Olive (“Tommie” Fox) Colburn were active members of the Association for Gravestone Studies from the 1980s. Natives of Lowell, Mass., and long-time residents of Berwick, Me., the Colburns shared an interest in New England gravestones and marker symbolism, with Tommie enjoying a particular specialty in metal-based markers.

The Colburn collection represents a cross-section of the couple’s work documenting and lecturing about New England grave markers and marker symbolism as well as Victorian funerary practice. Of note are a small number of items reflecting Victorian mourning culture, including images of funeral wreaths and arrangements, three mourning handkerchiefs, and a funeral card.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Connecticut
  • Gravestones--Maine
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
  • Gravestones--New Hampshire
  • Gravestones--New York
  • Gravestones--Rhode Island
  • Gravestones--Vermont
Contributors
  • Colburn, Olive
Types of material
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Photographs

Cornish, Michael

Michael Cornish Photograph Collection
ca.1975-2005
20 boxes (20.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 035

Michael Cornish first became interested in gravemarkers while writing a senior thesis at the Massachusetts College of Art, and since that time, he has prepared numerous exhibitions of his photographic work and conducted important research on colonial markers. Widely known for his work on the carver Joseph Barbur of West Medway, Mass., and a group of “tendril carvers” in southeastern Massachusetts, Cornish speaks frequently to historical societies around Massachusetts, delivering slide shows tailored to the particular area. An inventory photographer for the City of Boston’s Historic Burying Ground Initiative, he has also consulted for several towns regarding the preservation and rehabilitation of their burying grounds. As a member of the AGS Board of Directors, Cornish has worked in various capacities and played an active role in organizing and participating in the annual conventions, programs, exhibits, and tours.

The Cornish Collection includes many thousands of photographs and direct rubbings of early New England gravestones, primarily in Massachusetts and Connecticut, focusing on their beauty and artistic merit. Originally inspired by the work of Harriette Merrifield Forbes, and encouraged by Dan and Jessie Farber, Cornish photographed in a variety of formats, including Kodachrome transparencies, black-and-white negatives, and black-and-white prints. The collection also includes research notes relating to his work on Barbur and other stonecarvers.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Connecticut
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
  • Stone carving--Connecticut
  • Stone carving--Massachusetts
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies
  • Cornish, Michael
Types of material
  • Photographs

Dethlefsen, Edwin S.

Edwin S. Dethlefsen Photograph Collection
ca.1965-1970
1 box (0.25 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 020
Image of Abigail Holman, d. 1702, Milton, Mass.
Abigail Holman, d. 1702, Milton, Mass.

Edwin S. Dethlefsen and his colleague James Deetz did pioneering work in the historical archaeology and material culture of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century gravestones in New England. Through a series of articles in the mid-1960s, based on intensive study of well documented sites in Massachusetts, Deetz and Dethlefsen developed a basic framework for understanding the stylistic evolution of gravestones. Their work was foundational for later studies in material culture and folk art, but also the broader study of death and bereavement and colonial culture.

The Dethlefsen Collection consists of nearly 2,900 negatives (black and white, 35m and 2×2″) of gravestones, primarily from eastern Massachusetts and Newport, R.I. Among the towns documented are Boston, Cambridge, Charlestown, Concord, Dorchester, Harvard, Lexington, Marblehead, Marshfield, Plymouth, Quincy, and Scituate.

Subjects
  • Gravestones--Massachusetts
  • Gravestones--Rhode Island
  • Stone carving--Massachusetts
  • Stone carving--Rhode Island
Contributors
  • Association for Gravestone Studies
  • Dethlefsen, Edwin S
Types of material
  • Photographs
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