Gravestone Iconography

I found a decent paper on gravestone imagery and a few other sites as I explored around. There are quite few people interested in gravestones. I figured I’d create a little mini-guide using the images I’ve taken at Hollywood Cemetery. It’ll likely make sense to do something more formal later on but doing elements of possible future student work helps me work through things. Clasped Hands The “handshake” on the grave can mean different things. In this case you’ll notice that the sleeve on the right is feminine and the one on the right is masculine. This tends to mean a husband and wife joined in life and death. Three Chain Links This one is often a Masonic symbol or the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (new to me). I had thought it was something to do with the Father/Son/Holy Ghost. Flowers It is interesting to think of flowers of symbols of short life. It bring a new perspective on their use at funerals. IHS While it looked like a dollar sign to me initially . . . IHS are the first three letters of the Greek word for Jesus and may also represent hoc signo vinces (in this sign you will conquer) or Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, savior of men). The Dove A symbol of peace and rebirth. Southern […]

Hollywood Cemetery – Preliminary Thoughts

I’m pretty excited about a new project we’ll be working on this year. We’re going to look at a local historically significant, but still active, cemetery through a variety of disciplinary lenses. Hollywood Cemetery is the permanent home of two presidents of the USA (James Monroe and John Tyler) and one president of the CSA as well as a variety of other interesting local people. Dr. Ryan Smith from VCU’s history department has already had students doing quite a bit of work with local cemeteries. Back Story also recently republished a podcast (Grave Matters) which mentions Hollywood cemetery quite a bit and is all kinds of good. Even the Girl Scouts have some great information on Hollywood Cemetery1. So that brings up the question- What can we do that hasn’t been done and how can we make this something really valuable to the community- both locally and at large? The Players and Their Lenses Looking through the lens of sociology, Dr. Susan Bodnar-Deren will be helping us think through work around mortality, social status etc. by analyzing the data from gravestones.2 Dr. Bernard Means will be bringing an archaeological3 and 3D imaging background4 that he has honed in VCU’s Virtual Curation Lab. Dr. Ryan Smith will round out our professorial group with his focus on history. I will be playing […]