A Walk Among the Tombstones

For our class assignment, we were asked to do a brief survey of the Calvary Cemetery in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood. In terms of death frequency, the peak years were 1916-1960. Prior to this and after this period, in five-year increments, saw single digit plot usage. In and around war times, and for years after, you really see the importance that families have placed on military service and rank in male headstones.  What this is telling me, based upon a small sample of the whole cemetery, is that by 1960, as the city began filling up, the space at this cemetery began to become a premium, and plot cost probably began to rise to more unaffordable levels.

What you also see is a trend in headstones towards an in ground block style. The headstones also change in frequency of composition from marble and other materials to red granite becoming the dominant material. Of course, during the war years, especially during World War II, there was a strong trend of utilizing the bronze plated blocks that emphasized military service. Interestingly, there are no examples of women in service during this time, despite a documented War time record of women serving in various capacities during World War II. It would be interesting to explore this issue in an expanded survey focusing on World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam headstones emphasizing military service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *