Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Geography and Anthropology
Cemeteries in southeastern Louisiana are in varying stages of use---from presently in use and maintained to no longer visible on the surface. The abandonment of traditional cemeteries in southeastern Louisiana illustrates evolving settlement patterns. Earlier settlement patterns were dependent on physiographic and cultural landscape features. As settlement patterns evolve, the preferred locations of cemeteries change. As a recent participant in the nationwide preference for urban-associated Memorial Parks, is Louisiana in the process of abandoning traditional cemetery landscapes? Six factors that contribute to the abandonment of traditional cemeteries from 1930 to 1997 are presented in this study. Evolving communities, demographic shifts, transportation development, urbanization and recent local and national legislation are examined as factors contributing to the abandonment of traditional cemetery landscapes. By applying archaeology to geography, changes in temporal and spatial relationships of cemeteries are examined as indicators of socio-cultural and settlement pattern change. In this study, I use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) combined with historic to present cartographic research and field survey to assess cemetery conditions within a 90-kilometer radius of Louisiana's capital, Baton Rouge. I apply a multi-scale approach to data from the United States Census, United States Geological Survey, Geographic Names Information System, United States Army Corps of Engineers, State of Louisiana Division of Archaeology, Transportation Development, Cemetery Board, and various local archives, news media and ethnographies. In southeastern Louisiana, Memorial Parks are situated at intervals approximating 30 kilometers along interstates and near urban cores. Traditional cemeteries are distributed throughout the landscape at intervals as frequent as 3 kilometers apart. Historically, in southeastern Louisiana burial places were highly visible and dependent upon waterways, railroads and rural highways as transportation corridors. Memorial Parks, however, are situated near commercially advantageous superhighways and serve to displace visible signs of burial. A change in cemetery landscape preference is evidence for evolving perceptions of space, time and distance. In America, and globally, the elimination of spatial barriers and the annihilation of space by time has created new spatial relationships for burial places.
Nance, Cindy Ann, "Out of Sight, Out of Mind: a GIS Study of Changes in Cemetery Locations in Southeastern Louisiana From an Archaeological and Geographical Perspective, 1930--1997." (1999). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 7113.