Beginning in early October, GCC history students will fan out across the GLOW region to make photographic surveys of cemeteries. Making a digital record of cemeteries serves two different goals: One, at the rate many gravestones are weathering, the oldest stones are becoming unintelligible. A photo record can help to capture those words and symbols now, before they are unreadable, and may help in efforts to replace or restore those stones at some future date. The second goal is part of research being conducted by Prof. Derek Maxfield into how grave art made during and just after the Second Great Awakening, along the so-called “Burned Over District” of central and western New York, might be different from grave art of the same period from other locations in the northeast.
Central and Western New York, particularly along the Erie Canal, experienced frequent and fervent evangelical revivals in the early to mid 19th century. One of the most famous of the evangelical ministers of the age, Charles Grandison Finney, dubbed the area the “Burned Over District” to suggest that the revivals that took place across the region had left something of a scar from the fury of the revivals.