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Monmouth University Professor Publishes Book on American Cemeteries

Monmouth University Anthropology Professor Richard Veit and Cornell University Archaeology Professor Sherene Baugher have co-authored a new book, The Archaeology of American Cemeteries and Gravemarkers, published by University Press of Florida.

America’s historic burial grounds are a treasure trove of information about American history, culture, and art. This book provides a cultural history of American commemorative practices based on archaeological evidence. It covers the last 500 years of American history and all of North America.

Lynn Rainville, author of Hidden History: African-American Cemeteries in Virginia, describes the book as “a masterful overview of archaeological work on American gravestones and cemeteries that should be on the shelf of every student and scholar of mortuary studies.”

Gravestones, cemeteries and memorial markers offer fixed points in time to examine Americans’ changing attitudes toward death and dying. In tracing the evolution of commemorative practices from the 17th century to the present, Baugher and Veit offer insights into our transformation from a preindustrial and agricultural to an industrial, capitalist country.

Paying particular attention to populations often overlooked in the historical record – African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrant groups – the authors also address the legal, logistical, and ethical issues that confront field researchers who conduct cemetery excavations. Baugher and Veit reveal how gender, race, ethnicity, and class have shaped the cultural landscapes of burial grounds and summarize knowledge gleaned from the archaeological study of human remains and the material goods interred with the deceased.

Veit teaches courses on archaeology, historical archaeology, New Jersey history, Native Americans, and historic preservation. He has authored or co-authored numerous articles and reviews, and five books including Digging New Jersey’s Past: Historical Archaeology in the Garden State (Rutgers Press 2002), New Jersey Cemeteries and Tombstones History in the Landscape (co-authored by Mark Nonestied, Rutgers Press 2008), and New Jersey: A History of the Garden State (co-authored with Maxine Lurie, Rutgers Press 2012).