I had never considered the amount of information that we can glean from a casual walk around the cemetery.
Our group decided to record our data using a custom webform through the free app, NestForms. It was super handy. I took about 20 minutes to set up the webform to match our paper forms, and I was really happy with the results. It was much easier to fill out a pre-designed form on a phone than worry about wind and rain destroying the papers. It even recorded our GPS coordinates. When we got home, printing out a database was literally 3 clicks. All of the data is saved in the cloud. Go technology!
We also decided to stop in and talk with the cemetery staff when we got to the site. Some interesting tidbits that we got from speaking with them:
- The Denny Regrade project of the early 20th century involved moving a cemetery. The catholics that were previously barried there, are now at the Calvary Cemetery.
- There was a flu epedemic in Seattle in the 1920s which accounts for a large portion of the cemeteries inhabitants. Particularly the graves of many young people.
- There was an entire section of burials that had been left unmarked. These were people who were unable to purchase large family plots due to unmarked graves. The Calvary Cemetery director recently created a monument for these people.
- Many of Seattle’s famous families have burials in the cemetery, including the Nordstroms.
As others have mentioned, our sample size was so small that it is probably wrong to draw any conclusions from our findings. Alas, I will do it anyway.
Our findings suggest that males may be more highly valued, as their graves were nearly three times as large as the women’s, 5.6 to 2.2 ft tall. This seems to be especially skewed in the family plots where a family patriarch has a large monument while his relatives have smaller graves surrounding it. We saw this several times throughout our survey.
We also found that marble is by far the most common material used, comprising almost 50% of the graves. Our findings suggest that the use of marble has diminished in the last three decades however. Whether this is due to market forces or a culturally driven change is unknown.