Historic Cemetery Assessment
Burial sites and cemeteries reflect the cultural values and practices of the past. They help us understand who we are as a society, and where we have come from. Although cleaning up and beautifying old cemeteries is a long-standing tradition, widespread vandalism, theft, and abandonment have increased interest in preservation of old cemeteries. Preservation entails research, documentation, evaluation and treatment, ongoing maintenance, and possibly nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.
In October 2008, the Department sponsored a 3-day workshop at Bodie State Historic Park on the subject of historic cemeteries. Participants learned about the rural cemetery movement in the United States and had hands-on opportunities to evaluate cemetery features such as headstones, fences, and vegetation.
Our video was filmed at the Bodie workshop. It is a useful training tool for anyone interested in learning about historic cemetery assessment and evaluation, as well as how to prepare a cemetery management plan.
Historic Cemeteries in California State Parks
California State Parks has many historic burial sites and cemeteries. Some are individual grave sites of significant people, such as the unmarked grave of Jack London at Jack London State Historic Park. Many are of pioneers, early settlers and native peoples, often simply marked. Below is a partial listing of some of the system's historic cemeteries.
Angel Island State Park
Cemetery Site, West Garrison
Año Nuevo State Park:
Franklin Point Sea Burials (Informally delineated resting place of sailors associated
with several shipwrecks off the coast of Franklin Point)
Bodie State Historic Park:
Miner’s Union Cemetery
Bothe-Napa State Park:
Jack London State Historic Park:
Jack London Grave Site (Cremated remains of Jack and Charmian London
near the buried remains of the Greenleaf children,
buried before London purchased the land.)
Julia-Pfeiffer Burns State Park:
La Purisima Mission State Park:
Bell-tower and Cemetery Walls (Reconstruction of the original cemetery walls.)
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park:
James Marshall, Discoverer of Gold, Burial Site
(Separate from the cemeteries, Marshall's Monument is
located over his grave site in the State Historic Park)
Shasta State Historic Park:
Sutter Buttes State Park:
Repair and maintenance work being done at the
historic cemetery at Shasta State Historic Park.
Historians, archaeologists and other cultural resource specialists will find the following links useful in the development of their historic cemetery assessment and management plans:
National Park Service, Historic Preservation Program, Preservation Briefs
Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Cemeteries and Burial Places
Chicora Foundation, Columbia, South Carolina
(resource for cemetery conservation information and training)
National Preservation Institute
Cemetery Preservation Workshop September 2009
Cemetery Landscapes: A Guide to Care and Maintenance Workshop,