Sunday, April 27, 2008

Do You Have Taphophilia? defines taphophilia as "a love of funerals, graves, cemeteries." It is derived from the Greek words ταφος (grave) and φιλος (love). In Lisa Rogak's book Stones and Bones of New England: A Guide to Unusual, Historic, and Otherwise Notable Cemeteries (Guilford, Conn.: Globe Pequot, 2004, p. ix), she identifies four reasons persons come to love cemeteries:

  1. To learn about a town
  2. Quite refuge in summer
  3. The "feel of history"
  4. To conduct genealogical research
I suppose that the first category of persons are those persons who are interested in regional history. They want to know about the town's early settlers and people. The second category would be the people who go to the garden-type cemeteries to enjoy a nice peaceful picnic. The third category are those who feel that they are getting in touch with the past by being around old tombstones. The fourth category is where most persons researching family history come into the picture although they can certainly enjoy the cemetery for the other three reasons as well.

There is probably a category that Rogak missed. There are persons who enjoy old cemeteries because of the art on the old gravestones. If you've ever read any of Sarah Stewart Taylor's mysteries, you are familiar with her sleuth who is an expert in funerary art.

I confess I have taphophilia. While some of my family members who don't share my interest may think it's a disease, I'm sure that most of the readers of this post will think I'm perfectly normal!


Janice said...

I think that some people visit cemeteries to experience that rush of adrenaline and excitement when you find an elusive ancestor buried there.


Tipper said...

Oh I just think they are so interesting. Who were the people, what were their lives like, were they happy or sad? Just all sorts of things go through my mind when I visit graveyards.

penguinn said...

I totally understand and agree. Cemeteries can be one of the most interesting places to visit...I have also taught classes on tombstone art. It's amazing what it can tell you.

Terry Thornton said...

LORI, Maybe we both inherited a gene for taphophilia. And since our one common ancestor was James Monroe Thornton, wonder where he got it? LOL!

footnoteMaven said...


The rush I get when visiting a cemetery is that I am still above ground!


Joe said...

I hide my taphophilia here: Cemeteries and Cemetery Symbols

I think most genealogists have this trait :)