University of Massachusetts Amherst
SCUA

Meyer, Richard E., 1939-

Richard E. Meyer Collection
1948-2007 (Bulk: 1980-2007)
31 boxes (15.5 linear feet)
Call no.: PH 072
Image of

A member of the English and Folklore faculty at Western Oregon University, Richard E. Meyer studied at Northwestern University and the Universities of Washington and Oregon. A prolific author, he has published on topics ranging from British and American literature to American folklore, but particularly on the culture and history of the American cemetery and gravemarkers. A founder of the Cemeteries and Gravemarkers section of the American Culture Association (1986) and longtime member of the Association for Gravestone Studies, serving as editor of its journal, Markers, for twelve years, Meyer has delivered dozens of talks on the subject, is co-author (with Peggy McDowell) of The Revival Styles in American Memorial Art (1994), and editor of Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture (1989) and Ethnicity and the American Cemetery (1993).

During the course of his extensive research in cemeteries throughout the United States and Europe, Meyer documented over 20,000 grave monuments. His collection consists of over 16,000 color slides and 200 black and white photographs, all meticulously well-identified, of gravestones and cemeteries. Meyer also collected ephemera and realia relating to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to commemoration of the dead of the First World War.

Background

Monument for Rev. Pearls.

Monument for Rev. Pearls.

Richard E. Meyer was born September 20, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University before completing his graduate work in English literature and folkore at both the University of Washington and the University of Oregon, with some addtional studies at the Folklore Institute in at Indiana University and at UMass Boston. He is Professor Emeritus of English and Folklore at Western Oregon University, where he taught for about 28 years. His published works include several papers and articles on British and American literary figures, American outlaw ballads and legends, gravemarkers of loggers and pioneers of the Pacific Northwest as well as other cultural aspects of different funerary customs. Meyer has also edited two books, and co-authored one, with similar themes. As one of the leading experts in gravestone studies he has been interviewed for local newspapers as well as appearing in The New York Times, on National Public Radio and The History Channel.

Meyer has been studying the cultural traditions of cemeteries, gravestones, and honoring the dead since the early 1980s. He was the founding member of the Cemeteries and Gravemarkers permanent section of the American Culture Association, serving as chair for ten years. A long time member of the Association of Gravestone Studies, he edited the organization’s annual journal Markers for 11 years and, in 1998, won the Harriet M. Forbes award for excellence in gravestones studies. Meyer also served as a consultant on historic graveyards for multiple state and federal government agencies.

Meyer travelled throughout the United States and internationally, photographing and documenting different national, ethnic, and cultural funerary customs. He used his fieldwork to write and lecture about the differences in imagery and language used between cultures, religions, eras, and even the role war plays in how soldiers are remembered. In particular he has reserched two cultural traditions started during World War I: remembrance poppies and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

With all his study of gravemarkers it is not surprising, then, that Meyer already has decided the epitaph he wants for his own gravemarker, quoting Mercutio from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “Look for me tomorrow and you will find me a grave man.”

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Contents of Collection

This collection contains the research material created and collected by Richard E. Meyer, as well as memorabilia related to two cultural movements from World War I: remembrance poppies and the poem “In Flanders Fields,” and Tombs of Unknown Soldiers, chiely the site in Arlington, Virginia. The bulk of the collection consists of color slides and reference cards documenting gravemarkers throughout the United States and other countries, primarily in Oregon. Other research material includes field notebooks, black and white photographs of headstones, background information on local stone carvers, and records from cemeteries in Oregon. Published material includes conference papers, books, reviews, public lectures and interviews in print and recorded on VHS and cassette. Memorabilia consists of a wide variety of items from novels, magazines, articles and comic books to commemorative plates, pins, photographic material and stuffed animals.

Series descriptions

Consists of research on gravemarkers. Included are photographs, negatives and slides; their corresponding reference cards and notes, records from several different cemeteries in Oregon, organized by county, and research on related topics such as grave robbing, vandalism and grave stone carvers in Oregon.

Contains works written and edited by Meyer, including papers, lectures, books and reviews. Also included are five video, one audio, and several print interviews with him.

Includes memorabilia relating to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, VA, and some from other countries, and relating to remembrance poppies and the poem “In Flanders Fields”.

Collection inventory
Series 1. Gravemarker Studies
Photographs: Gates/Signs
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Long Shots
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Photographs: Husband/Wife
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Cause of Death
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Children (Includes Mult-C and Mother-C)
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Ethnic
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Pioneer
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Signed (i.e. not included elsewhere)
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Vandalism/Neglect
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Symbols (Full Stone)
1980s
Box 1
Photographs: Symbols (Close Up)
1980s
Box 1
Negatives
1980s
Box 1

Negatives for black and white photos

Carver Book
1980s
Box 1

Notebook of headstones by different carvers.

Carvers/Marble Dealers
Box 1
Dept. of Trans. Study
Box 1
Grave Robbers
Box 1
Misc.
Box 1
Misc. from pio memoirs, biogs, etc.
Box 1
Pet cems (including Presidio)
Box 1
OR revised statutes/cems
Box 1
Vandalism, etc.
Box 1
Oregon Cemetery Records
Box 28

Also includes news clippings and records from a few cemeteries in Washington state.

Reference Cards
1984-1985
Box 2

Reference cards for slides 33-84 to 4-85.

Reference Cards
1985-1988
Box 3

Reference cards for slides 5-85 to 3-88.

Reference Cards
1988-1991
Box 4

Reference cards for slides 4-88 to 37-91.

Reference Cards
1991-1995
Box 5

Reference cards for slides 38-91 to 1-95.

Reference Cards
Box 6

Reference cards for X-series slides and slides of gravestones in other countries.

Color Slides
1982-1984
Box 7

1000 color slides, numbered 1-82-1 to 15-84-32; slide description cards, numbered 1-82-1 to 2-83-20. Also contains cemetery cards with names of cemeteries in Oregon and years visited, organized by county, Baker through Linn.

Color Slides
1983-1984
Box 8

1000 color slides, numbered 16-84-1 to 45-84-7; slide description cards, numbered 3-83-1 to 5-84-24. Also includes cemetery cards with names of cemetaries in Oregon and years visited, organized by county, Malheur through Yamhill; Northwest cemeteries, by state, Alaska to Washington, through Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Seattle.

Color Slides
1984
Box 9

1000 color slides, numbered 45-84-8 to 74-84-22; slide description cards, numbered 5-84-25 to 14-84-37. Also includes cemetery cards with names of cemeteries in the Northwest and years visited, organized by state, Washington (MT. View Cemetery, Connell, WA) through Wyoming; Southwest cemeteries, by state; South cemeteries, by state, Arkansas through Florida.

Color Slides
1984-1985
Box 10

1000 color slides, numbered 1-85-1 to 23-84-7; slide description cards, numbered 15-84-1 to 23-84-7. Also includes cemetery cards with names of cemeteries in the South and years visited, organized by state, Georgia through Virginia; Midwest cemeteries, by state, Illinois through Wisconsin; East cemeteries, by state, Delaware through Pennsylvania; New England cemeteries, by state, Connecticut to Massachusetts (Pine Grove Cemetery, Templeton, MA).

Color Slides
1984-1987
Box 11

1000 color slides, numbered 34-85-14 to 26-87-8; slide description cards, numbered 24-84-1 to 32-84-37. Also includes cemetery cards with names of New England cemeteries and years visited, organized by state, Massachusetts (Pine Hill Cemetery, WEstfield, MA through Woodside Cemetery, Westminster, MA) through Vermont; also three Washington, D.C. cemeteries.

Color Slides
1984-1988
Box 12

About 1000 color slides, numbered 4-87-31 to 21-87-38 and 26-87-19 to 11-88-26; slide description cards, numbered 43-84-1 to 52-84-18.

Color Slides
1985-1990
Box 13

About 1000 color slides, numbered 11-88-27 to 1-90-36; slide description cards, numbered 22-85-1 to 34-85-20.

Color Slides
1985-1991
Box 14

About 1000 color slides, numbered 2-90-1 to 17-91-6; slide description cards, numbered 34-85-21 to 7-86-36.

Color Slides
1986-1992
Box 15

About 1000 color slides, numbered 17-91-7 to 6-92-22; slide description cards, numbered 8-86-1 to 3-87-36.

Color Slides
1989-1993
Box 16

About 1000 color slides, numbered 6-92-23 to 4-93-22; slide description cards, numbered 3-89-1 to 14-89-10.

Color Slides
1989-1994
Box 17

About 1000 color slides, numbered 4-93-23 to 19-94-30; slide description cards, numbered 14-89-11 to 2-91-36.

Color Slides
1991-1995
Box 18

About 1000 color slides, numbered 19-94-31 to 16-95-21; slide description cards, numbered 3-91-1 to 14-91-36.

Color Slides
1992-1996
Box 19

About 1000 color slides, numbered 16-95-22 to 9-96-17; slide description cards, numbered 25-92-1 to 7-93-15.

Color Slides
1993-1997
Box 20

About 1000 color slides, numbered 9-96-18 to 17-97-8; slide description cards, numbered 7-93-16 to 7-94-36.

Color Slides
1994-1999
Box 21

About 1000 color slides, numbered 17-97-9 to 5-99-12; slide description cards, numbered 8-94-1 to 19-94-36.

Color Slides
1999-2004
Box 22

About 1000 color slides, numbered 5-99-13 to 1-04-3. Also included are reference cards organized by category.

Color Slides
2004-2007
Box 23

About 1000 color slides, numbered 1-04-5 to 1-07-34, and X-series slides numbered X-1 to X398. Also included are reference cards for master carvers and idea cards.

Color Slides
Box 24

About 1000 X-series color slides, numbered X-399 to X1197 (end of the series).

Series 2. Professional Works
1983-2007
1983-2007
Box 25

Box contains five VHS tapes, one cassette tape, and several print interviews with Meyer, three books written or edited by him, awards speeches, calls for papers, and other written works relating to gravestone studies, including academic conference papers.

Academic Conference Papers
1983-1985
Box 25: 1
Academic Conference Papers
1985-1987
Box 25: 2
Academic Conference Papers
1988-1990
Box 25: 3
Academic Conference Papers
1990-1994
Box 25: 4
Academic Conference Papers
1995-1999
Box 25: 5
Academic Conference Papers
2000-2003
Box 25: 6
Academic Conference Papers
2004-2007
Box 25: 7
Public Lectures
1983-1997
Box 25: 8
Published Articles
1990-2006
Box 25: 9
Series 3. Memorabilia
Commemorative Material
Box 26

Material relating to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier including videos, music, plates, coins, dolls and other realia.

Commemorative Material
Box 27

Material relating to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the poem “In Flanders Fields”.

Commemorative Material
Box 29

Material related to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, remembrance poppies and “In Flanders Fields”, and four packets of poppy seeds.

Commemorative Material
Box 30

Material relating to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Commemorative Material
Box 31

Material related to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, including stereoscopic pictures, postcards, photographs, pamphlets, and postal first day covers.

Residue

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Gift of Richard E. Meyer, 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by Adrienne Zimmerley, 2016.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Richard E. Meyer Collection (PH 072). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Gift of Richard E. Meyer, May 2016
Subjects
  • Cemeteries
  • Gravestones
  • Sepulchral monuments
  • Soldiers' monuments
  • Tomb of the Unknowns (Va.)
Types of material
  • Photographs

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