The faces of death

The secularization of mourning and death in the Gilded Age


  • Jeffrey E. Smith Lindenwood University



cemetery, rural cemetery movement, gravestone, collective memory, monuments


The Rural Cemetery Movement ushered in a new way of thinking about cemeteries in American society after 1831. As these cemeteries became civic assets, they were widely visited by people and became a mediated space for articulating and expanding collective memory. The gravestones and monuments in these cemeteries erected in the second half of the nineteenth century combined increasingly secular messages and memory in a sacrosanct setting, thus blurring the lines in cemeteries between the secular and the sacred.

Author Biography

Jeffrey E. Smith, Lindenwood University

Jeffrey Smith is senior professor of history at Lindenwood University. He is author of The Rural Cemetery Movement: Places of Paradox in Nineteenth-Century America.


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How to Cite

Smith, J. E. (2021). The faces of death: The secularization of mourning and death in the Gilded Age. Body and Religion, 4(2), 173–194.