The 34th annual conference of the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) was held at Colby College, Waterville, Maine, June 14 – 19th.  There were lectures, workshops, exhibits, tours of Maine cemeteries and even sales tables – something for everyone interested in gravestone studies.


Lecture topics presented included Lynne Bagget’s “Incised Letterform”.   As demonstrated by Lynne, through careful examination of carved lettering, a stonemason can be identified and his heritage revealed.   She also takes this process one step further and creates the most interesting art forms from lettering found on graves and other resources.   Even her cast forms taken from contemporary sign lettering have their roots in the ancient carvings.  


Always, these lectures and workshops display our cultural heritage and our connections to ancient, medieval, colonial and Victorian influences when it comes to gravestone art and the men and women who carved the stones.


Other papers were presented on topics ranging from images of  turn-of-the century Maine; rare Jewish cemetery monuments; portrait gravestones, finger pointing hand carved gravestones of the 19th Century; sandstone markers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, cemeteries; grave structures in Louisiana and other parts of the South; Yellow Fever Epidemics;  Old Dutch Cemeteries, and even a lecture on the allegorical death scene in which an angel guides a soul on the last voyage across water to a distant land.   All of these lectures required a great deal of research by each presenter and inspire further study into each topic.


The most noteworthy hands-on two-day workshop during this conference is the Conservation workshop.   It’s hard work and involves the participants in learning the proper techniques for cleaning, repairing, resetting stones and mortaring them into a base.    And that’s the “Beginner” Workshop.   That workshop is followed-up by a full day advanced workshop which includes learning how to assess and document gravestones and monuments, use a consumer grade handheld GPS, advanced cleaning techniques, core drilling and removing rusted, damaged pins, adhesive repair of stone fragments and the use of various mortars for infills and replacement of lost materials.  WOW!   These workshops teach Association for Gravestone Studies participants conservation and restoration skills and they in turn use these skills to work in their favorite burying grounds and cemeteries to restore damaged markers, gravestones and of course monuments.


Other workshops included letterform casting; photography; making foil impressions of gravestones; paranormal experiences; understanding the history and evolution of cemetery markers; gravestone rubbing; and even “humor in the graveyard.”


The next AGS conference will be in June of 2012 at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, New Jersey.   Please contact the Association for Gravestone Studies in Greenfield, Massachusetts, for more details.   Its web site is  < >




Here are photos of AGS conferees wearing Gravestone Artwear t-shirts.


 Jane Macomber, President of the Maine Old Cemetery Association 


 The Phil Wooldridge Family from Great Meadows, New Jersey --

Jack, Lorner and Phil


Other Conferees: