Indiana University Archives Exhibits

Tombstones, Folklore, and Material Culture

Grave and cemetery site mapping is a popular tool for genealogical research. Websites such as Find A Grave, Billion Graves, and Names In Stone serve a mass public’s interest in locating individuals’ and families’ final resting places. As primarily genealogical tools, these projects center on the personal data inscribed on tombstones (names, birth and death dates, etc.). Folklorists, however, often shift the focus of grave and cemetery research to the tombstones themselves—as objects of material culture. This exhibit combines cemetery mapping and a material culture perspective on tombstone design and craft.

The core of this exhibit is the Pauline Montgomery Cemetery and Tombstone Photograph Map. This interactive feature locates the Indiana cemeteries that educator and folklorist Pauline Montgomery documented in the 1960's. The map combines photographs from Indiana University Image Collections Online, data from the Indiana University Archives Pauline Montgomery Indiana tombstone photographs and records collection (C386), and additional location and geneology information from Find A Grave.

As an alternative to using the map, users can also browse Pauline Montgomery tombstone photograph galleries--these are separated by Indiana counties. Clicking tombstone images on the map and in the galleries will retrieve individual item records.