Working with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration, Preservation Maryland has embarked on an ambitious project to document 100 cemeteries and burial sites across the state.

Last month, Preservation Maryland began to document 100 cemeteries and burial grounds within or adjacent to Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and/or State Highway Administration (SHA) right of way that have yet to be recorded, are abandoned, or are not being maintained.

Caroline HerrittPreservation Maryland selected trained archaeologist, Caroline Herritt, to lead the project as Cemetery Documentation Specialist. She has previously worked on cultural resource management and archaeology projects across the country. Starting with a rough list of 100 at-risk cemeteries, the initiative has commenced with locating forgotten, abandoned, and ill-maintained locations and conducting research leading to the identification of previously unknown burial sites and their ownership.

Nearly a dozen cemeteries have been documented thus far using a mobile app specially developed by SHA to record data points that will be added to a first-of-its-kind data layer in their statewide GIS database and mapping tool. Most of the cemeteries surveyed date from the 19th century and were located on private property. Based on this important exercise, the app may be released to the public to help crowdsource additional data. Preservation Maryland will host five app workshops this year, including a workshop at the Old Line State Summit in Frederick on July 24, 2019.

Preservation Maryland has been actively involved in cemetery preservation and named Maryland’s burial sites a Six-to-Fix project in 2016. Working closely with the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites, and now with DOT and SHA on this initiative, the organization continues to advocate and work for the protection of these sacred places. Cemeteries are evocative and powerful places that speak to both descendants and visitors equally and documentation is a step towards proactively protecting at-risk historic cemeteries.

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