Will “T’omb” series find its way to St. Augustine?


Historic City News learned from the Northeast Region of the Florida Public Archaeology Network Outreach Coordinator, Amber Grafft-Weiss, that their popular lecture series, “T’omb It May Concern.” will likely find its way to St. Augustine in the next year.

The Northeast Regional Center has worked on a variety of public events this fall. One of the most exciting was our lecture series, “T’omb It May Concern.” The biweekly speaker series focused on burial and mourning practices in the 19th century. FPAN partnered with the Cemetery Restoration and Preservation Trust of Jacksonville (CRPT‐JAX) and Jax Parks to bring the lectures to Jacksonville.

Each speaker brought a unique way to look at how people dealt with death in the 1800s. In the first installment, Shorty Robbins discussed dress and jewelry used in mourning. In addition to using pictures to help the audience visualize what she described, she arrived dressed in mourning costume appropriate to the time period.

Shannon Palmer of CRPT JAX followed two weeks later with an exploration of “Effigy, Elegy, and Epitaph.” She shared images of death masks and effigies through history, and then explored how death was treated in poetry and on gravestones.

The next lecture featured FPAN’s Northeast Regional Director, Sarah Miller. Her talk revealed “Why Archaeologists ‘Dig’ Historic Cemeteries.” She discussed the excavation of a Kentucky cemetery that led to the discovery of lost burials and new information about two Mexican War Veterans.

The final lecture in the series featured the University of Florida’s Dr.
James Davidson. He discussed the national beautification of death movement of the 1800s, in which graves began to feature comforting images, rather than grim reminders of the afterlife. His talk then explored findings from an African American cemetery that dated from the mid 1800s to the early 1900s. He discussed how, and how much, African Americans at Freedman’s Cemetery embraced white burial practices.

The Northeast Regional Center of the Florida Public Archaeology Network is hosted by Flagler College in St Augustine. This Center serves seven counties: Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, and Volusia.