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# Monday, 22 September 2008
Don't Get Arrested Doing A Tombstone Rubbing
Posted by Diane

Q. A cemetery-sleuthing Forum member, surprised to learn tombstone rubbings are prohibited in some areas, asked for more information about where that’s the case.

A. A state, county, municipality or a cemetery itself can set rules regarding tombstone rubbings.

Historic cemeteries and those popular with tourists, such as Boston’s Old Granary (final resting place for many Revolutionary War heroes), often prohibit tombstone rubbings because of the potential damage. Repeated rubbings of a stone, even when done properly, cause deterioration over time.

Similarly, Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries also do not authorize gravestone rubbings. (You can search burials in VA cemeteries using the Nationwide Gravesite Locator.)

You also may find rubbings aren’t prohibited, but regulated. In Andover, Mass., for example, Spring Grove Cemetery requires visitors to register with the foreman before doing a rubbing.

New Hampshire law states “No person shall make gravestone rubbings in any municipal cemetery or burial ground without first obtaining the written permission of the town selectmen or the mayor of a city … [who] will ascertain to the best of their ability that the person making the request knows the proper precautions.”

Before you visit a cemetery to do a rubbing, call ahead to see if it's permitted. Most cemetery Web sites I checked didn't address the issue; I’d try to talk to a person just to be safe.

For some cemeteries, it’s not clear whom to call. Try the local municipal government or parks department, which may take over maintenance once the family or oganization that established a cemetery is gone. A local genealogical or historical society might be able to give helpful information, too.

Before visiting a cemetery located on private property—common in rural areas—check cemetery access laws to ensure you’re not trespassing. You may have to go during certain hours or get permission from the landowner to cross his property.

Even when tombstone rubbings are allowed, use common sense: If a stone is unsteady, crumbling or fragile, don’t take a rubbing—take a picture and make a transcription instead.

See more gravestone rubbing dos and don'ts  on the Association for Gravestone Studies Web site.

Monday, 22 September 2008 18:06:22 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #  Comments [4]
Tuesday, 23 September 2008 03:32:07 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Wow! I had no idea about all of this. Thank you so much for posting this blog as I would have undoubtedly never thought to ask had I not run across that blog. Cut to: Cat in Jail, LOL! But I'm looking forward to hunting down some cemetaries when I go back east so that really was valuable information.
Thursday, 25 September 2008 21:58:26 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Don't want to get in trouble, don't do them at all. They can damage the stone, even if the damage isn't visible to the naked eye, they shouldn't be done at all.
Sunday, 19 October 2008 14:55:10 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I have missed the last 2 newsletters. What has happened? I wish there was an archive by newsletter I could go to when this happens.

Thanks for your help,
Ann Martindale
Sunday, 01 March 2009 04:29:09 (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Is an effective and operable program. There seems to be some bugs in the software. I am wondering if it would be worthwhjile to upgrade to version 2.0.
Larry K. Peterson
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