Hurricane Sandy Program



  • A GIS database for 1,380 historic cemeteries, available to the public
  • Designation of four cemeteries to the National Register of Historic Places and/or State Register of Historic Places
  • An annotated bibliography for researchers interested in the evolution of Connecticut’s cemeteries as well as related trends and fashions in cemetery design and funerary art
GIS database of the Hale Collection

Part of the SHPO’s Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Assistance Grant went toward developing a GIS and database of cemeteries documented in the Charles R. Hale Collection of Connecticut Cemetery Inscriptions to assist in future project planning and in the review of project applications by the SHPO. This database will also assist researchers from outside the SHPO in locating the 1,380 cemeteries recorded by Hale in the four coastal counties. (Completed in the 1930s, the Hale Collection is the longstanding standard reference in this research area.)


The Hale Collection includes historic cemeteries throughout the state, many of which lie within FEMA-designated flood zones or in coastal areas that could be impacted by tree falls or other damages caused by severe storms. The best way to predict which historic cemeteries might be affected by sea level rise and flooding or other storm impacts was to create a GIS map and database of these treasured resources. With this tool, the SHPO will quickly be able to assess which cemeteries will require protection or, in the event of weather incidents, assess which ones may have been most affected.


Each site is identified and geo-located by a point at its approximate center. Each data point within the GIS includes the name of the cemetery, a brief description of its location as noted in Hale Collection documentation, and volume and page references to the associated Hale Collection survey records. In addition to the GIS, the research package includes scans of the original cemetery maps in the Hale Collection.


Annotated guide to researching Connecticut’s historic cemeteries

Researching Connecticut’s Historic Cemeteries: An Annotated Reference Guide focuses on the burial grounds and cemeteries of Connecticut dating from European settlement to the twentieth century. The document was designed to assist in both informal and scholarly exploration of those multifaceted heritage sites, and to encourage further investigation into local, regional, and national funerary history.


The resources compiled and summarized in the guide’s chapters deal with topics for cemetery research including:


  • Understanding Cemeteries in Cultural Context
  • The Design and Landscaping of Burial Spaces
  • Funerary Art and Architecture: Monuments, Markers, and Memorials
  • Funeral, Burial, and Mourning Customs; Laws and Bylaws
  • Resources for Cemetery-Specific Research, and
  • Preservation, Documentation, and Conservation.


Bibliographic entries range from the celebrated (Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death) to the obscure but useful (Mortuary Law, a compendium of relevant laws and precedents published in 1896), with a special emphasis on Connecticut-related resources.


Cemetery recordation form

A cemetery recordation form and instructions were developed for Connecticut cemetery features and characteristics. This fillable PDF form will allow surveyors to collect information about damage from natural disasters in addition to essential information about setting and landscape features, uses, and markers and monuments. This work, coupled with the database and mapping information, will make the location and study of Connecticut’s cemeteries not only easier and more comprehensive but can open up the process to the state’s interested citizens.

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National Register nominations for historic cemeteries

Notable among the Hurricane Sandy program’s National Register of Historic Places projects were nominations for cemeteries that subsequently were listed in the NR: