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Preservation at Work: Historic Cemeteries

May 9, 2012

What do you think of when you think of “preservation?” Do cemeteries come to mind at all? Oregon’s historic cemeteries are often forgotten about in the preservation world, but are vital resources to our heritage community. Historic cemeteries are also a great way to meet people who are enthusiastic about preservation. Many historic cemeteries have active volunteer groups dedicated to finding unmarked burials, cleaning and repairing markers, controlling vegetation, installing fencing and signage, and interpreting community histories through their cemeteries.

A marker in Westfall Cemetery in Malheur County gets some much needed preservation.

If you’re interested in getting involved in historic cemetery preservation, Oregon Heritage has you covered. We’ve put together a few Heritage Bulletins about historic cemetery preservation to help you get started:

For those of you who want to take the next step, the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries is organizing the Historic Cemetery Volunteer Corps that will be made up of people willing to take a bit of training on how to care for historic cemeteries and then make themselves available to volunteer with others in their area during cemetery clean-ups. The free training is available online and can be completed in about an hour or less. Once the training is complete, your name will be added to a list of volunteers. Trained volunteers will then be connected with other people and groups in your area that would like help at their next cemetery clean-up. Get more information about the Historic Cemetery Volunteer Corps at

How are you working to preserve Oregon’s historic cemeteries? If you’re not, are you ready to dip your toe in cemetery preservation? Are you thinking about joining the Historic Cemetery Volunteer Corps? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2012 3:53 pm

    Great post! We are opening a B&B in Virginia on a historic plantation. There is a small church on the plantation with a cemetery. This cemetery has most of the families that lived in this plantation. When we first started working on this business deal to lease the plantation, we started doing research on those families. One of the things we noticed was there was a monument in the cemetery that had a brozen plaque that stated it once set at this house about 200 yards away. After months of research we finally found that burial site (right in the front yard) and marked it. The owners are going to let us replace the monument on the burial site once we start working on the yard.

    • May 14, 2012 7:30 am

      Welcome virginiaplantation, and thanks for your comment! Nice work using the historic cemetery to find the unmarked burial. We have had similar situations here in Oregon with unmarked burials, such as in downtown areas during excavation, etc.


  2. May 23, 2012 7:50 am

    Reblogged this on Your Parks "Go Guide" and commented:
    Great story from the Oregon Heritage Exchange

  3. Sumpter Chatter permalink
    May 23, 2012 4:24 pm

    A group of us gather every summer to work on the Sumpter Cemetery….

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