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Cemetery Guides and Necrologies

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Registers of the dead — this may seem like a bizarre category of materials to discuss, but for biographical research they often are very useful. By cemetery guides we mean guides to where people are buried and by necrology we mean lists of people buried in particular cemeteries, churches, cloisters, etc. Of course, there is some overlap of these two genres and the terms are used in various ways, so we group them together without trying to make a clear definitional distinction. These resources may include just the names and dates of the dead, inscriptions on tombstones, or even long, biographical articles on the dead. Although the word necrology can mean obituary, the sources included in this section usually do not cover the death notices published around the time of death. Tombstones art is another somewhat separate genre, but some of those resources will be discussed here if they provide some biographical data as well, for in the words of the American writer, John D. Fitzgerald, tombstones are “man’s briefest biographies.”

The Russians and other Slavs have published many books in this area, with more being published every year. Often different strategies need to be employed to find these materials for the various Slavic groups. For example, for Russia you can look in the guides to the literature, such as Zaionchkovskii, under Nekropoli to find a listing of some of the major ones. For the Czechs, however, who do not have the same kind of published guides, you can look in one of the major encyclopedias under nekrolog and find a definition of what it is, both a list of people buried in a particular place and an obituary, and a see reference. In the article that appears in the Ottuv slovnik naucny you are referred to the entry for the author J. Emler, who published a number of necrologies for particular churches, and the bibliographic citations are given only in that article. Western Europeans as well as Eastern Europeans publish in this genre. Try searching WorldCat with necrologies or cemeteries as a subject word. Limit by the country of interest.



image for Russian necrologies


image for Polish necrologies

The picture of the headstone for Eduard Tisse, the Russian cameraman, is reproduced from Ermonskaia, V.V. Sovetskaia memorial’naia skul’ptura. Moskva: Sovetskii khudozhnik, 1979. The Polish monument is from Franciszek Jaworski’s Cmentarz Grodecki we Lwowie, We Lwowie: Nakladem Towarzystwa Milosnikow Przeszlosci Lwowa, 1908. The picture of the Slovak grave marker from Hungary is reproduced from Bednarik, Rudolf. Cintoriny na Slovensku. Bratislava: Vyd. Slovenskej akademie vied, 1972.