How to Save Historic CemeteriesVancouver Websites
Preservation of historic cemeteries tends to be a grassroots effort, which is why it is so important for community members to get involved. Neglected cemeteries are unsafe but just having people visit for a stroll, tour, or presentation makes it a safer space and makes them aware of the community’s past. These burial plots can be found along roads, in someone’s backyard, or connected to an old church. They end up unmaintained when the occupants’ relatives pass away as well. But, these cemeteries are an essential part of history, and its gravestones tell the stories of people who helped shaped the town or city into what it is today.
These are a few things people can do for free to save historic cemeteries:
Go for a walk with your kids to these outdoor museums and learn about local history, connect names with influential people in town, or look at the symbols on gravestones. There is no need to fear a cemetery as it contains just as much history and knowledge as a conventional museum.
You can volunteer your time to support clean up efforts. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:
- Take pictures to help keep documentation
- Clear away plants that cover the stone by gently slipping them near the base
- Use soft brushes
- Start at the bottom of the stone and work your way up with cleaner
- Rinse thoroughly
- Apply shaving cream. People have used this to make the letters stand out, but the stone absorbs it allowing the cream to eat away at the marker
- Put flour on the stone either. People consider this a more natural way to make letters stand out, but it can help plants and moss grow, causing the roots to dig into the stone and break it down
- Use bleach. It may make the stone look bright at first, but over time it will eat away at the stone and leave an orange tint
- Use other household cleaners. Buy products specifically designed to preserve headstones
- Scrub with a brush that is harder than the stone as it will leave scratches
- Use sealers. This stone is porous, and even a sealer can cause it to crack and crumble over time.
Contact local organizations
Find out if there are any cemetery preservation efforts already in place in your area. If there is no effort in place, ask your local historical or genealogical society for help documenting gravestones.
Host a small tour to draw attention to the significance of the local history to more community members. You could also start a website to attract people who care about the maintenance of the cemetery. Once there is more awareness of the need for people to get involved, it will be easier to organize cleanup days.
It is vital to document cemetery locations and not just the gravestones in it. You cannot protect a cemetery if you don’t know it exists or where it is, so bringing awareness at local and state levels will give it a better chance of survival.