Colonial Geography: Early American Cemeteries

Throughout this blog, you will notice I have a very large definition of early America that includes not only North America, but also Central America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. I also occasionally reference the gravestone art of the European communities that fed these colonies, particularly England, Holland, and the Iberian Peninsula. Most of the gravestones I have posted so far are from Jewish colonists, particularly Sephardim (Spanish-Portuguese Jews) who came to the Americas to escape the Inquisition and engage in trade. My current book project is on visual world of these early American Jews. In the course of doing research, I have photographed the early Jewish cemeteries in Newport (Rhode Island), Philadelphia, Curacao, Suriname, Jamaica, and Amsterdam. In two of these communities (Newport, Curacao) I have also worked extensively in the early Protestant and Catholic cemeteries in order to be able to discuss what makes the Jewish iconography of the era distinctive. We are in the process of creating a fully searchable on-line database for these images ("Jewish Atlantic World"), that is now live at will also start to notice that I have a lot of images from early New England cemeteries. When I was working on my first book, Indian Converts, I worked extensively in the early cemeteries on Martha's Vineyard and to a lesser extent in the "Old Indian Cemetery" in Mashpee. I also visited and photographed other important colonial cemeteries in the region for comparative purposes. Many of these images are cataloged in the Indian Converts Collection which also contains Study Guides on subjects such as Reading Gravestones and Death in early America.

If you have an interest in hearing about colonial cemeteries in any of the locations I have mentioned (or that appear in green on the map of New England above), just let me know!

2 Responses to “Colonial Geography: Early American Cemeteries”:

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hello, have you heard of any gravesites in El Salvador or around the border between Honduras and El Salvador? I know you mentioned Central America and I would like to go soon, perhaps this summer, in search of some evidence, however, I haven't much experience in determining the identity of a gravestone as Sephardic. Thank you!

  2. Excellent question! I haven't looked for Jewish cemeteries in that region. Does anyone know about early Jewish settlers in either Honduras or El Salvador?

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