Problematic Graves, Tourism, and the Wishes of Survivors

in Digging Up the Dead

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226423296
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226423326 | DOI:
Problematic Graves, Tourism, and the Wishes of Survivors

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Many significant exhumation episodes in America involved not only statesmen and warriors, founders and fallen heroes, but also legendary figures, especially in literature and the arts—for example, Edgar Allan Poe and Mark Rothko. Beyond exhumation and reburial, or the restoration of a neglected gravesite, these people have something in common: their civic and personal survivors (particularly mothers and spouses) argued that the deceased had either not been interred in the most appropriate location or not interred properly, or that the deceased had really wanted to be buried in a spot other than the one initially chosen. With some notable exceptions, graves of figures such as Jesse James, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Daniel Boone were not disinterred because their reputations as historically significant individuals changed. There are cases when opening or moving graves, or else erecting new and more imposing monuments, enhanced reputations and revived interest in the individuals' careers and contributions to American life and culture. Boone's reburial was particularly a bitterly contested episode. Pilgrims, disciples, and curiosity seekers have played key roles in prompting reinterment.

Keywords: graves; Jesse James; Frank Lloyd Wright; Daniel Boone; reinterment; America; reputations; Edgar Allen Poe; Mark Rothko

Chapter.  13317 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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