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Cemeteries reflect many aspects of both geography and culture. Demographics, cultural norms, social relationships and family histories are just a sampling of the wealth of information found in cemeteries. This course will use the cemetery as a tool for investigating how the spatial and temporal aspects of cultural phenomena can be used for geographical study. Migration, demographics, spatial analysis and basic mapping skills will be used for investigation. Fieldwork, data analysis and technical writing skills are critical skills used in this course.

Course Components:

Fieldwork and Mapping Activities- A major component of this course will be fieldwork. Students will work in teams assigned to specific cemeteries and will do a detailed geographic and demographic analysis of the site.

Database Development - Students will collect tombstone data and create a spatial database.

Mapping - Students will create accurate maps of cemeteries in Boone County. Each map will provide an in-depth "view" of the cemetery via detailed field maps, pictures and historical information
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Research - Students will select a research topic of their interest and complete a study for this class. Past examples of studies done by students have included papers on the following:

  • Cemeteries in American Poetry
  • Symbolism in Bellefontaine Cemetery
  • The Mystery of Margaret Harris: "Black Mammy" of Columbia Cemetery
  • The Living Among the Dead: An Account of Tree Population and Diversity in Four Cemeteries in Jefferson County, Missouri