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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.

Background on James Tibesky

An early scholar of American gravestones, James Tibensky was born in Chicago in September 1948 and raised in a family that spent time indulging in cultural and educational activities, including visiting nature centers, hiking, and exploring old cemeteries. Tibensky began college at Morton Junior College in Cicero, Ill., but left school after his first year to enlist in the Volunteers in Service to American (VISTA) program, and was assigned to service on the Standing Rock Reservation in North and South Dakota. After completing his service, he enrolled as a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago, but after meeting his future wife, transferred to Washington University, where she was enrolled, and completed his bachelor’s degree there in 1971. At Washington University, he declared a major in anthropology and after encountering the pioneering work of James Deetz and Edwin Dethlefsen in an archaeology class, began to focus on old gravestones.

During the summers, Tibensky and his wife worked at a summer camp in West Cornwall, Conn., that gave them considerable latitude in developing projects for the campers. Through a connection with a salvage archaeologist in the area, Tibensky arranged to have his charges assist in digging and sorting artifacts and looking at old graveyards, doing stone rubbings. After completing his undergraduate degree in 1971 and deciding to continue for a master’s degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago, he drew upon these camp experiences and laid out an ambitious project, systematically documenting every pre-1800 grave marker in western Connecticut. Based at a YMCA in Hartford, he spent two months between April and June 1974 photographing each stone, and noting the name, date of death, orientation, style, and material. Using Hollerith cards to enter and then analyze his data, completed his thesis, “The colonial gravestones of western Connecticut,” in 1977.

In 1976, Tibensky met Nancy Buckeye, a librarian at Central Michigan University with a mutual interest in gravestones, who mentioned that she was one among a group founding an organization to be called the Association for Gravestone Studies. Tibensky became a charter member and has remained a member since.

Scope of collection

The Tibensky collection contains the complete product of James Tibensky’s remarkably thorough study of colonial-era gravestones in western Connecticut. In addition to approximately 350 rolls of negative film with thousands of individual frames, the collection includes the accompanying original field notes, computer printouts, and statistical data, all meticulously maintained.

Inventory

Series 1. Data and analysis
1974-1983
Cemetery index
ca.1974
Box 1: 1
Correspondence: with Robert L. Caulfield, Edwin S. Dethlefsen, Daniel Farber, Allan L. Ludwig
ca.1975-1983
Box 1: 2
Data encoding notes
ca.1974
Box 1: 3
Gravestone lists III (rolls 294-349): field notes
ca.1974
Box 1: 4
Gravestone computer printouts
ca.1974
Box 1: 6
Statistical analysis system printouts
ca.1974
Box 1: 5
Series 2. Negatives
1973-1974
Avon: Cider Brook Cemetery
1974 Apr. 28
Rolls 074-075
Berlin: Blue Hills Cemetery
1974 May 11
Rolls 167-168
Berlin: Christian Lane Cemetery
1974 May 9
Rolls 160-162
Berlin: Farmington Ave. and Overhill Court Cemetery
1974 May 11
Roll 165
Berlin: Ledge Cemetery
1974 May 9
Rolls 162-163
Berlin: Maple Cemetery
1974 May 11
Rolls 165-167
Bloomfield: Old Bloomfield Cemetery
1974 May 4
Rolls 112-115
Branford: Center Cemetery
1974 June 3
Rolls 329-332
Bristol: Bridge Street Cemetery
1974 May 15
Rolls 207-208
Bristol: North Cemetery
1974 May 15
Rolls 208-210
Canaan: Grassy Hill Cemetery
1973
Roll 002
Canaan: Grassy Hill Cemetery
1973
Rolls 005-007
Canaan: Grassy Hill Cemetery
1973
Rolls 009-010
Canaan: Grassy Hill Cemetery
1973
Roll 017
Canaan: Grassy Hill Cemetery
1974 Apr. 14
Roll 030
Canton: Dyer Farm Cemetery
1974 May 5
Rolls 120-121
Canton: North Canton Cemetery
1974 May 5
Rolls 119-120
Cheshire: Hillside Cemetery
1974 May 16
Rolls 212-217
Clinton: Center Cemetery
1974 May 30
Rolls 296-300
Cornwall: Cornwall Cemetery
1974 Apr. 24
Rolls 056-058
Cromwell: Old Cemetery
1974 May 11-12
Rolls 171-179
Derby: Colonial Cemetery
1974 May 24-25
Rolls 270-273
Derby: Old Town or Oak Cliff Cemetery
1974 May 25
Rolls 273-274
Durham: Old Cemetery
1974 May 19
Rolls 237-249
Durham: Old Cemetery
1974 May 26
Rolls 280-281
East Granby: Center Cemetery
1974 May 5
Rolls 125-128
East Haddam: Hadlyme Second Congregagtional Church Cemetery
1974 May 18
Rolls 234-235
East Haddam: Millington Cemetery
1974 May 18
Rolls 235-236
East Haddam: Moodus Cemetery
1974 May 17
Rolls 226-229
East Haddam: Nathan Hale Schoolhouse or Goodspeed Cemetery
1974 May 18
Rolls 230-231
East Haddam: Old Cove Cemetery
1974 May 18
Rolls 231-233
East Haddam: Second Burying Ground
1974 May 18
Rolls 233-234
East Hampton: Hog Hill Cemetery
1974 May 7
Rolls 145-147
East Hampton: Lakeview Cemetery
1974 May 7
Rolls 144-145
East Hartford: Center Cemetery
1974 May 1
Rolls 081-091
East Hartford: Old South Cemetery
1974 May 1
Rolls 091-092
East Haven: Green Cemetery
1974 June 4
Rolls 332-337
East Windsor: Scantic Cemetery
1974 June 1
Rolls 321-323
East Windsor: Town Street Cemetery
1974 June 1
Rolls 319-321
Enfield: Enfield Street Cemetery
1974 May 20
Rolls 250-257
Essex: Riverview Cemetery
1974 May 28
Rolls 266-289
Farmington: Old Cemetery
1974 Apr. 28
Rolls 075-081
Glastonbury: Eastbury Cemetery
1974 May 7
Rolls 139-143
Glastonbury: Green Cemetery
1974 May 6
Rolls 128-137
Glastonbury: Still Hill-South Glastonbury Cemetery
1974 May 7
Rolls 137-139
Goshen: East Street Cemetery
1974 Apr. 24
Rolls 058-059
Goshen: Middle Street Cemetery
1974 Apr. 24
Roll 058
Goshen: West Side Cemetery
1974 Apr. 24
Roll 058
Granby: Center Cemetery
1974 May 5
Rolls 124-125
Greenwich: South Beach Cemetery
1974 June 6
Roll 348
Guilford: North Guilford Cemetery
1974 June 3
Rolls 324-329
Haddam: Higganum Cemetery
1974 May 14
Roll 201
Haddam: Old Cemetery
1974 May 14
Rolls 201-203
Haddam: Old Ponset Cemetery
undated
Hamden: Centerville Cemetery
1964 May 25
Rolls 285-286
Hamden: Mount Carmel Cemetery
1974-0-26
Rolls 283-285
Hartford: Center Cemetery
undated
Hartland: East Cemetery
1975 May 5
Rolls 123-124
Hartland: West Cemetery
1974 May 5
Rolls 122-123
Harwinton: Center Cemetery
1974 Apr. 20
Rolls 051-052
Kent: Cemetery
undated
Killingworth: Old Cemetery
1974 June 3
Roll 323
Killingworth: Union Cemetery
1974 May 18
Rolls 236-237
Lime Rock: Trinity Church Cemetery
1973
Roll 003
Lime Rock: Trinity Church Cemetery
1973
Rolls 010-011
Litchfield: East Cemetery
1973
Rolls 007-009
Litchfield: East Cemetery
1974 May 10
Roll 163
Litchfield: West Cemetery
1974 May 10
Rolls 163-165
Madison: Hammanasset Cemetery
1974 May 30
Rolls 300-302
Madison: Old Summer Hill Cemetery
1974-09-03
Rolls 323-324
Madison: West Cemetery
1974 May 30
Rolls 302-306
Manchester: East Cemetery
1974 Apr. 17-18
Rolls 040-042
Manchester: West Cemetery
1974 Apr. 17
Rolls 039-040
Marlborough: Center Cemetery
1974 May 7
Rolls 143-144
Marlborough: Jones Hollow Cemetery
1974 May 7
Roll 143
Meriden: Center Cemetery
1974 May 11
Rolls 168-171
Meriden: Meeting House Hill Cemetery
1974 May 11
Roll 171
Middletown: Farm Hill Cemetery
1974 May 13
Rolls 186-193
Middletown: Indian Hill Cemetery
1974 May 13
Rolls 179-184
Middletown: McDonach or Riverside Cemetery
Rolls 193-201
Middletown: Mortimer Cemetery
1974 May 13
Rolls 184-186
Morris: Center Cemetery
1974 May 21
Roll 258
Morris: Footville Cemetery
ca.1974 May 22
Roll 260
Naugatuck: Oak Street Cemetery
1975 May 24
Roll 269
New Britain: Fairview Cemetery
1974 Apr. 18
Rolls 048-050
New Hartford: Town Hill Cemetery
1974 May 5
Rolls 121-122
New Haven: 227 Grove Street Cemetery
1974 June 6
Rolls 348-350?
New Milford: Center Cemetery
1974 June 5
Rolls 344-347
Newington: Congregational Church Cemetery
1974 May 9
Rolls 157-160
Norfolk: Center Cemetery
1974 Apr. 23
Rolls 055-056
Norfolk: Grantville Cemetery
1974 Apr. 29
Roll 056
North Branford: Cemetery
ca.1974 May 31
Rolls 315-319
North Canaan: Canaan Valley Cemetery
1974 Apr. 23
Roll 055
North Canaan: Forbes Cemetery
1974 Apr. 23
Roll 055
North Canaan: Mountain View Cemetery
1973
Rolls 002-003
North Canaan: Mountain View Cemetery
1973
Roll 005
North Canaan: Mountain View Cemetery
1973
Roll 009
North Canaan: Mountain View Cemetery
1974 Apr. 13
Rolls 028-030
North Haven: Center Cemetery
1974 May 31
Rolls 306-311
Northford: Cemetery
1974 May 31
Rolls 312-315
Norwalk: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Cemetery
undated
Old Saybrook: Point or Cypress Cemetery
1974 May 28
Rolls 289-294
Oxford: Jack’s Hill Cemetery
1974 May 24
Roll 269
Plainville: East Street Cemetery
1974 May 15
Rolls 206-207
Plymouth: Old Congregational Church Cemetery
1974 May 21
Roll 257
Portland: Center Cemetery
1974 May 17
Rolls 221-225
Portland: Trinity Church Cemetery
1974 May 17
Rolls 217-221
Rocky Hill: Center Cemetery
1974 Apr. 18
Rolls 042-048
Salisbury: Chapinville Cemetery
1974 Apr. 25
Rolls 061-062
Salisbury: Chapinville? Cemetery
1974 Apr. 22
Roll 051
Salisbury: Town Hall Cemetery
1973
Roll 016
Salisbury: Town Hall Cemetery
1974 Apr. 23
Rolls 051-054
Saybrook: Winthrop Cemetery
1974 May 22
Roll 236
Seymour: Great Hill Cemetery
1974 May 25
Rolls 269-270
Sharon: Boland Cemetery
undated
Sharon: Ellsworth Cemetery
undated
Sharon: Town Street Cemetery
undated
Simsbury: Center Cemetery
1974 May 4
Rolls 115-119
South Windsor: East Windsor Hill Cemetery
1974 May 2
Rolls 099-108
South Windsor: Town Hall Cemetery
1974 May 3
Rolls 108-110
Southbury: Pierce Hollow Cemetery
1974 May 22
Rolls 268-269
Southbury: South Britain Burying Ground
1974 May 22
Rolls 167-268
Southbury: White Oak Cemetery
1974 May 22
Rolls 265-267
Southington: Merriman Cemetery
1974 May 16
Roll 211
Southington: Oak Hill Cemetery
1974 May 15
Rolls 203-206
Southington: Quinnipac Cemetery
1974 May 16
Rolls 210-211
Southington: South End Cemetery
1974 May 16
Rolls 211-212
Stratford: Library Cemetery
1974 June 4
Rolls 337-347
Suffield: Center Cemetery
1974 Apr. 17
Rolls 033-037
Suffield: Hastings Hill Cemetery
1974 Apr. 17
Roll 039
Suffield: West Suffield Cemetery
1974 Apr. 17
Rolls 037-039
Thomaston: Hillside Cemetery
1974 May 21
Roll 257
Torrington: Torring Ford Cemetery
1974 Apr. 24
Rolls 060-061
Torrington: West Torrington Cemetery
1974 Apr. 24
Rolls 059-060
Wallingford: Center Cemetery
1974 May 25
Rolls 277-280
Wallingford: Center Cemetery
1974 May 26
Rolls 281-283
Warren: Cemetery
undated
Washington: New Preston Cemetery
1974 May 21
Rolls 258-259
Washington: Old Cemetery
1974 May 21
Rolls 259-260
Waterbury: Old Cemetery
1974 May 22
Roll 260
Watertown: Old Cemetery
1974 May 22
Rolls 261-263
West Hartford: Center Cemetery
1974 Apr. 28
Rolls 072-073
West Hartford: West Hartford Cemetery
1974 Apr. 28
Rolls 073-074
Westbrook: Old Cemetery
1974 May 30
Rolls 294-296
Wethersfield: Center Cemetery
1974 May 8
Rolls 147-157
Windsor: Elm Grove Cemetery
1974 May 2
Roll 092
Windsor: Old Poquonock Cemetery
1974 May 4
Rolls 111-112
Windsor: Palisade Cemetery
1974 May 2
Rolls 092-099
Woodbridge: East Side Cemetery
1974 May 25
Rolls 275-277
Woodbridge: Milford Side Cemetery
ca.1974 May 25
Roll 274
Woodbury: St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Cemetery
1974 May 22
Rolls 263-265

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Provenance

Gift of James Tibensky, Oct. 2018.

Related Material

Tibensky’s MA thesis “Colonial Gravestones of Western Connecticut,” University of Chicago Illinois, 1977, is located in Association for Gravestone Studies Printed Materials Collection (RG 4, Series 2: AGS 247).

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Nov. 2018.

Language:

English

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: James Tibensky Collection (MS 1050). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Connecticut–History–18th century
  • Gravestones–Connecticut

Names

  • Association for Gravestone Studies
  • Dethlefsen, Edwin S.
  • Ludwig, Allan I.

Genre terms

  • Photographs

Link to similar SCUA collections

Gift of James Tibensky, Oct. 2018

Subjects

Gravestones--Connecticut

Types of material

Photographs

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