Trim: 6 x 9
978-1-4985-2900-6 • Hardback • October 2017 • $105.00 • (£81.00)
978-1-4985-2902-0 • Paperback • November 2019 • $43.99 • (£34.00)
978-1-4985-2901-3 • eBook • October 2017 • $39.00 • (£30.00)
Jeffrey Smith is professor of history at Lindenwood University.
Chapter 1: Cemeteries as Sacred Yet Secular
Chapter 2: Nature v. “Nature”
Chapter 3: Cemeteries as Urban Amenities
Chapter 4: The Cemetery Business
Chapter 5: Cemetery Design and Social Class
Chapter 6: Monuments, Commemoration, and Collective Memory
. . . this rich subject, and Smith’s research, merits the attention of a new audience.
— Missouri Historical Review
Smith (history, Lindenwood Univ.) approaches the 19th-century rural cemetery movement from the perspective of its paradoxes. Burial institutions evolved as remedies to overcrowding at the outskirts of rapidly growing cities, but eventually were overwhelmed by that growth. They mimicked an idyllic rural landscape while serving an urban community; performed both sacred and recreational functions; and were public spaces as well as private businesses. Smith surveys the tensions among these functions, using examples from cities including Boston, Brooklyn, Akron, Philadelphia, and St. Louis. While the landscape architecture aspects have been intensively examined elsewhere, and Smith reviews them here as well, his true contribution is his focus on the business aspects of rural cemeteries, how they were financed and maintained, and the implications for design inherent in the social class structure of the 19th century. The author details the choices made to serve wealthy elites, religious groups, the poor, and the burgeoning middle class, and explores the process of increasing regulation and standardization. Excellent bibliography…. Summing Up: Recommended. All academic libraries.
— Choice Reviews
This is a fascinating and well-written study. When Mount Auburn opened in 1831, it marked the beginning of the rural cemetery movement in America. With it, burial grounds became cemeteries—no longer simply places to bury a family’s nearest and dearest, but planned green spaces that celebrated the lives of their residents, functioned as parks for growing cities, and established a new business model for the country’s emerging economy. In his excellent book, Jeffrey Smith covers the history of these changes in a thoroughly engaging way. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the America of the nineteenth century.
— Carol R. Yaster, President, Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery
Jeffrey Smith detours from the well-trodden historiographical path of the rural/garden cemetery movement. Smith reinterprets this movement, showing how the rural/garden cemetery was not only cleverly used as a vehicle to engage the changing urban landscape of the nineteenth century, but ultimately served a puzzling but pertinent dual purpose—sacred and secular, natural and created. This excellent book is straightforward but skillfully crafted, making it a celebrated contribution to the field of cemetery studies and a must read for all who are curious about the ground where we all will one day rest.
— Kami Fletcher, Delaware State University
While many scholars have discussed rural cemeteries in broad swaths, no one until Jeffrey Smith has tried to fully detail the complexities and contradictions around nature, ornamentation, culture, and business that these cemeteries represent. In this well-researched and written history, Smith draws upon a wide range of national examples to illuminate this critical change in the American way of death.
— David C. Sloane, University of Southern California
9/19/21, History News Network: Smith wrote a news piece on the controversy over removing confederate memorials from cemeteries.