CHCs and Historic Cemeteries: A Framework for Preservation

The THC's Cemetery Preservation Program offers a framework to help a County Historical Commission (CHC) shape its cemetery-related program of work. This framework emphasizes county-wide efforts versus individual cemetery projects. The THC recommends this approach because it encourages activities that benefit the greatest number of resources, and it helps prioritize those that are most endangered. It also helps a CHC align its cemetery-related work with the statutory assignments outlined by the local government code.

This webpage contains resources designed to assist CHCs in understanding the framework and carry out activities suggested by THC. Content is organized into four modules which reflect the framework’s four core components. Each module consists of a short training webinar led by THC staff, a printable PDF copy of the presentation slides, guidance documents or tip sheets, and links to other relevant resources.

Introduction to the Framework 

Learn about how and why this framework was developed for CHCs; how the framework can be used for effective county-wide cemetery preservation programs; and an overview of the framework's four core components--Identify, Connect, Assess and Cultivate.

Introductory video (28 minutes)
Presentation slides 
Handout: Framework for Preservation

Framework Part 1: Identify

This component of the framework focuses on building and maintaining a comprehensive, county-wide inventory of all cemeteries known to exist in the county along with their exact locations. We also discuss the importance of the inventory as a planning tool.

Training video (44 minutes)
Presentation slides
Resources referenced in the presentation:
     THC's Historic Sites Atlas
     How to Find Cemeteries in the Atlas
     Tips for County-Wide Cemetery Inventory
     Sample Inventory Form - Coming Soon!
     Filing Notices of Abandoned or Unverified Cemeteries

Framework Part 2: Connect

Part 2 of the framework emphasizes the importance of building connections with the caretakers of each cemetery and helping them make connections with potential stakeholders. Also learn about how to conduct research to determine ownership of abandoned sites.

Training video (40 minutes)
Presentation slides
Resources referenced in the presentation:
     Cemeteries Need Signs
     Tips for Connecting to Cemetery Caretakers
     Sample Cemetery Rules
     Sample Cemetery Assoc. Bylaws
     Research Cemetery Ownership

Framework Part 3: Assess

The third component of the framework focuses on how to identify endangerment factors and prioritize preservation needs for cemeteries. Staying current on cemetery laws and preservaiton standards is integral to the effort.

Training video (32 minutes)
Presentation slides
Resources referenced in the presentation:
     Preserving Historic Cemeteries: Texas Preservation Guidelines
     Top Cemetery Laws for CHCs
     Tips for Accessing Cemeteries
     CHCs Can Prevent Cemetery Vandalism
     NCPTT Cemetery Conservation Resources
     Association for Gravestone Studies

Framework Part 4: Cultivate

The framework's final component emphasizes how cultivating public awareness, appreciation, and understanding of historic cemeteries can help recruit new stewardship and build overall capacity for preserving these special places.

Training video (35 minutes)
Presentation slides
Resources referenced in the presentation:
     Cemetery Talking Points
     Sample Cemetery Lesson Plan
     Video: Community Engagement in Historic Cemeteries (video begins at timestamp 4:52)
     Video: Grandview Cemetery's Grassroots Revitalization

About the Framework

Development of this framework grew out of a 2019 study project to better understand the full range of CHCs cemetery-related activities and to identify the ways THC can best support CHCs in their efforts. Excerpts from the study project are available here.