Collecting area: Gravestones

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Tibensky, James

James Tibensky Collection

1973-1974
3 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1050
Depiction of Chapinville Cemetery, Salisbury, Conn., April 25, 1974
Chapinville Cemetery, Salisbury, Conn., April 25, 1974

After working for a year on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, James Tibensky returned to college, declared a major in anthropology, and soon began to focus on gravestones. For his masters degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Tibensky took up an ambitious project, systematically documenting every pre-1800 grave marker in western Connecticut, photographing each stone, and noting the name, date of death, orientation, style, and material. Painstakingly entering and analyzing the data on the computer using Hollerith cards, he completed his thesis, “The colonial gravestones of western Connecticut,” in 1977. During the latter stages of his research, he became a charter member of the new Association for Gravestone Studies.

The Tibensky collection contains the complete product of James Tibensky’s remarkably thorough study of western Connecticut colonial-era gravestones, including approximately 350 rolls of negative film with the accompanying original field nates, printounts, and statistical data, all meticulously maintained.

Gift of James Tibensky, Oct. 2018

Subjects

Sepulchral monuments--Connecticut

Types of material

Photographs
Tucker, Ralph L.

Ralph L. Tucker Collection

1951-ca.2000
20 boxes 10.5 linear feet
Call no.: PH 041
Depiction of Erased stone, Salem, Mass.
Erased stone, Salem, Mass.

Known for his extensive research into Boston and Merrimac Valley area gravestone carvers, particularly Joseph Lamson and John Hartshorne, Ralph Tucker received the AGS Forbes Award in 1992 for his excellence in carver research. One of the attendees at the inaugural Dublin Seminar, and the first President of the Association for Gravestone Studies, Tucker served as editor of a column, “17th and 18th Century Gravestones and Carvers,” in the AGS Newletter from 1993-1999. Born on May 29, 1921 in Winthrop, Mass., Tucker attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Tufts University, and Episcopal Theological School. He married Mildred R. Moore in 1946 and was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1947. Tucker spent two years as a missionary in China, returning to serve parishes in Utah, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. In addition to extending his ministry to hospitals and prisons, he participated in 1960s Civil Rights protests in Alabama and Boston. In 1985 he went to Zimbabwe as a missionary, retiring to Maine soon thereafter where he acted as interim pastor of Grace Episcopal Church in Bath. Tucker died March 28, 2010, and was survived by his wife, four sons — Ralph, Jr., Richard R., Roger W., and Paul M. Tucker, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The Tucker collection includes research notes and copies of published works stemming from Ralph Tucker’s decades of research on stone carvers and other gravestone-related topics, along with hundreds of images documenting carvers and stones in Massachusetts.

Subjects

Cemeteries--MassachusettsSepulchral monuments--MassachusettsStone carving--Massachusetts

Contributors

Tucker, Ralph L.

Types of material

Photographs
W.H. Grindol and Son

W.H. Grindol and Son

1895-1900
1 letterbook 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 705
Depiction of Monument design
Monument design

A great-grandson of Revolutionary War general Henry Haller, William H. Grindol (1840-1927) settled with his family in Decatur, Illinois, in 1864, building a successful career in the retail marble trade. Beginning in partnership with Paul F. Jones, and later with his son, Grindol advertised his firm as dealers in “all kinds of foreign and American monuments,” selling marble and granite monuments, building stone, and iron reservoir vases. He was one of the founders of the Retail Marble and Granite Dealer’s Association of Illinois, serving as President of the Central District in 1897. Grindol died in Decatur in 1927 and is buried at Fairlawn Cemetery.

Grindol and Son’s letterpress copy book contains approximately 900 outgoing letters, 1895-1900, to marble and granite suppliers, in Vermont, Massachusetts, and other states. The majority of the correspondence consists of orders for gravemarkers, with many letters including measurements and other details, along with rough sketches of monuments, decorative motifs, and inscriptions.

Subjects

Marble industry and trade--IllinoisSepulchral monuments--Illinois

Contributors

W.H. Grindol and Son

Types of material

Letterpress copies
Weatherby, Una F.

Una F. Weatherby Collection

1924-1934
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: PH 036
Depiction of Gravestone in Putnam, Conn.
Gravestone in Putnam, Conn.

The botanical illustrator and writer Una Foster Weatherby (1878-1957) was an early student of New England gravestones. Born in Texas in 1878, Una Leonora Foster met a young pteridologist Charles Alfred Weatherby (1875-1949) while traveling abroad in 1910, and seven years later, the couple wed. As Charles advanced in his career to a position at the Gray Herbarium at Harvard, Una became his close associate, working with in the field and as illustrator and photographer. Among the many interests the couple developed was a fascination with photographing early American gravestones, and over the last three decades of her life, Una published occasionally on the subject. She died in Cambridge on August 17, 1957, and is interred with her husband at Center Cemetery in East Hartford, Conn.

The Weatherby collection consists of a substantial typed manuscript illustrating early American gravestones, mostly from New England. Meticulously assembled, the manuscript is divided into six thematic sections based on gravestone design (death’s heads, winged cherubs, wingless cherubs, portrait stones, symbolic stones, and designs and willows). Each stone is represented by a single photograph pasted onto a page, along with a transcription of the epitaph and occasional comments on the design and date on which the information was recorded. Although most stones are from Connecticut and Massachusetts, a few stones from Virginia and South Carolina are included.

Subjects

Sepulchral monuments--ConnecticutSepulchral monuments--MassachusettsSepulchral monuments--New Hampshire

Contributors

Association for Gravestone StudiesWeatherby, Una F

Types of material

PhotographsScrapbooks
Whitaker, Elizabeth W.

Elizabeth W. Whitaker Collection

1802-1989
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 682
Depiction of Gravestone, No. Guilford, Conn.
Gravestone, No. Guilford, Conn.

A physical education teacher from Rome, New York, Elizabeth W. Whitaker became an avid recorder of gravestone inscriptions in the 1940s. She died in 1992 at the age of 93.

The core of the Whitaker collection consists of 25 receipts and accounts relating to the early marble industry in western Massachusetts. The key figures in this series are Rufus Willson and his father-in-law, John Burghardt, who quarried stone near West Stockbridge, Mass., conveying it to Hudson, N.Y. The collection also includes a selection of photographs and postcards of gravestones, mostly in New England and New York; two folders of typed transcriptions and newspaper clippings of epitaphs from the same region, ranging in date from the early colonial period to the mid-19th century; and a price list of Barre granite from Wetmore and Morse Granite Co., 1934.

Subjects

Marble industry and trade--MassachusettsSepulchral monuments--Massachusetts

Contributors

Association for Gravestone StudiesBurghardt, JohnWhitaker, Elizabeth WWillson, Rufus

Types of material

PhotographsReceipts (Financial records)
Williams, Gray

Gray Williams Photograph Collection

ca.1988-2000
3 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: PH 027

The editor, writer, and photographer Gray Williams was born in New York City in 1932, and spent most of his life in Chappaqua (Westchester County), N.Y. A 1954 graduate of Yale, Williams worked in the publishing industry for many years, including for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, and since 1988, he has been a freelance writer, editor, and photographer. Long dedicated to history and historical preservation, he has served as New Castle Town Historian, chair of the New Castle Landmarks Advisory Committee, trustee of the Westchester County Historical Society, and as a member of the Property Council at the National Trust property Lyndhurst. He is the author of Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County (Westchester County Historical Society, 2003). A specialist in the early stone carvers of New York and Connecticut, as well as the use of grave monuments to illuminate and enrich the study of American history, art, and culture, Williams is a former trustee of the Association for Gravestone Studies and has contributed articles to its annual journal, Markers, and its Quarterly. In 2007, he was awarded the Association’s Harriette Merrifield Forbes Award for contributions to scholarship and preservation in the field.

The photographs and research materials he has contributed to the Association for Gravestone Studies are largely devoted to the subjects of three articles in the AAGS journal, Markers: “‘Md. by Thomas Gold’: The Gravestones of a New Haven Carver,” in collaboration with Meredith M. Williams, Markers V (1988); “Solomon Brewer: A Connecticut Valley Yankee in Westchester County,” Markers XI (1994); “By Their Characters You Shall Know Them: Using Styles of Lettering to Identify Gravestone Carvers,” Markers XVII (2000). The collection also includes photographs taken during AGS conferences, principally in New England, as well as a small group taken in Natchez Cemetery in Mississippi.

Subjects

Sepulchral monuments--New YorkStone carving--New York

Contributors

Association for Gravestone StudiesWilliams, Gray

Types of material

Photographs
Wilson, John S.

John S. Wilson Collection

1970-1983
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 858
Depiction of Amos Foster stone, 1793, New Salem Cemetery
Amos Foster stone, 1793, New Salem Cemetery

As an undergraduate at UMass Amherst, John S. Wilson undertook of study of gravestones in New Salem, Mass. Working under George Armelagos, he receiving a BA in Anthropology with honors (1971) for his work on the “social dimension of New England mortuary art,” and returned for an MA in (1976). Wilson later worked as Regional Historic Preservation Officer and Archaeologist for the Northeast Region of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Part of the collections of the Association for Gravestone Studies, the collection includes two copies of John Wilson’s senior honors thesis, a card file associated with the thesis, and several dozen slides (both color and black and white) of New Salem headstones. Some images appear to be later prints of images taken in 1970-1971.

Subjects

New Salem (Mass.)--HistorySepulchral monuments--Massachusetts--New Salem

Types of material

Photographs
Wright, Robert A.

Robert A. Wright Collection

ca.1980-1989
3 boxes 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: PH 030

A graduate of Kenyon College with a degree in studio art and student at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, N.Y., Robert A. Wright was working as a freelance photographer and writer in Madison, Wisconsin, in the late 1980s. Wright had a strong interest in Victorian cemeteries, rural cemeteries, and gravestone art.

A product of Robert Wright’s research on rural cemeteries and carvers, this collection includes notes, drafts, newsclippings, and selected copies of readings on Mt. Auburn (Boston), Spring Garden (Cincinnati), Cave Hill (Louisville), Oakland (Iowa City), and Bonaventure (Savannah). Of particular note is a selection of large and beautifully-printed photographs, mounted on board for exhibition, depicting monuments in a number of Victorian cemeteries.

Gift of Robert A. Wright, 2009, and transferred by AGS, 2010

Subjects

CemeteriesSepulchral monuments

Types of material

Photographs
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