Sep 19, 2019

The Rural Cemetery Movement: Places of Paradox in Nineteenth Century America

In his book, "The Rural Cemetery Movement: Places of Paradox in Nineteenth Century America," Dr. Jeffrey Smith explores the growth of garden cemeteries in the United States during the three decades before the Civil War. As church and municipal burial grounds in urban centers became overcrowded, new cemeteries were established in lower population density areas. These new “rural” cemeteries fulfilled the sacred function of burial, while providing green spaces and respites from urban life, establishing institutions where people could craft their roles in collective memory and serving as prototypes for both urban planning and city parks. They were also paradoxical in nature: “rural” yet urban, natural yet designed, artistic yet industrial, commemorating the dead yet used by the living. Unlike their predecessors, founders of these burial grounds intended them to be used in many ways that reflected their views and values about nature, life and death and relationships. Join us as Smith details his research on the history of cemeteries in the 19th century and how they can help us better understand the values, attitudes and culture of urban America from mid-century through the Progressive Era.

Time: 78 pm

Location: Missouri State Archives, 600 W. Main St.

Cost: Free

Contact: For more information, contact Tracy Wegman at 573-526-5296 or email 

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