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Cemetery Preservation

Cemetery Preservation

There are State laws in Indiana regarding cemeteries. Note that you are not allowed to trespass on private property to do work on another’s property. Before starting, make sure you talk to the landowner and have the authority to do the work. Probing for stones is illegal without a permit from our office. While controversial, it helps protect the site from looters and from people impacting the graves with their probing rods.

While there are no state laws that describe the techniques for the preservation of cemeteries and gravestones, but there are best practices and standards to meet to assure that you are preserving the site in a way that will not eventually lead to damage.

A highly recommended print resource for finding information on cemetery preservation is A Graveyard Preservation Primer by Lynette Strangstad. In her book, you can find instructions oriented to those preserving a site. It covers all the aspects of cemetery preservation including survey, determining the needs for repair and restoration, preparing a plan for a restoration project, documenting data from and about the stones, as well as cleaning, repairing, and resetting stones.

Several organizations also exist to help with cemetery preservation.

In Indiana, the (Indiana Pioneer Cemetery Restoration Project), a grassroots organization with the goal of preserving, protecting, and respecting every graveyard in the state.

The Association for Gravestone Studies was founded in 1977 to further the study and preservation of gravestones. AGS is an international organization with an interest in gravemarkers of all periods and styles. Through its publications, conferences, workshops, and exhibits, AGS promotes the study of gravestones from historical and artistic perspectives, expands public awareness of the significance of historic gravemarkers, and encourages individuals and groups to record and preserve gravestones. At every opportunity, AGS cooperates with groups that have similar interests.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training advances the application of science and technology to historic preservation. Working in the fields of archaeology, architecture, landscape architecture, and materials conservation, the Center accomplishes its mission through training, education, research, technology transfer, and partnerships. They offer various resources and materials related to the preservation of cemeteries.

Cemeteries can also be used a teaching resource. From looking at grave markings to obituary files, teachers can learn how to incorporate local resources into their classroom.

Any questions about historic cemeteries, cemetery preservation, or the Cemetery Heritage Sign Initiative, contact the Cemetery Registry Coordinator.

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