References: Site Surveys and Research

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Recording the epitaph on a headstone in the new Jewish cemetery in Rohatyn (Ivano-Frankivsk oblast). Photo © RJH.

This page lists print and electronic references which provide guidance and data to enable several types of surveys at Jewish burial sites in western Ukraine, to support the development of detailed plans for clearing, landscaping, fencing, and the conservation or creation of markers, memorials, and other objects at cemeteries and mass graves. Documented surveys are often the first practical step of cemetery preservation projects, and sometimes also the last.

The references here address surveys to: identify Jewish cemeteries at sites where current land use masks their historical purpose; assess and record the condition of and risks to a whole cemetery and/or individual graves and markers; measure cemetery terrain (perimeter and interior topography); identify, classify, transcribe/translate, and database headstone symbolic carvings and inscriptions; locate and identify subsurface features (individual and mass burials, fallen and covered headstones, etc.); and capture, process, and model 3D surface profiles of individual headstones. Advice is provided not only for what to do and how to do it, but also for what not to do. In addition to print and digital texts and videos, a number of cemetery and grave assessment forms from experienced researchers and practitioners are linked here as examples. These references are relevant to the guide section on site surveys and research on this website.

A few of the listed references are highlighted with brief summaries in the first section below, “key references”. Other useful resources on this subject may be found in the sections on regional and international experts, and on technical tools, methods, and data. Except where noted otherwise, all references listed here are in English.

Key References

Survey Methodology for the Preservation of Historic Burial Grounds and Cemeteries; Frank G. Matero and Judy Peters; APT Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 2/3, 2003, pp. 37-45. Free download available.
A brief but thorough overview of the key reasons for surveying and assessing the condition of historic burial sites, and recommended methods to conduct and record the assessment. The text also provides a decision tree for choosing approaches to emergency intervention in the preservation of grave markers, and an information management model for digital data. Methods for creating a digital site map are outlined, as are approaches to data analysis and interpretation. Examples of these methods in use are available in the University of Pennsylvania Scholarly Commons.

Recording, Documentation, and Information Management for the Conservation of Heritage Places: Vol. 1, Guiding Principles; Robin Letellier, Werner Schmid, and François LeBlanc; Getty Conservation Institute; 2007. Free e-book available.
Highly detailed and richly illustrated, this comprehensive survey of recording and documentation of heritage places (broadly defined as immovable cultural heritage including landscapes such as cemeteries) is intended for conservators and managers of heritage sites. Volume 1 (linked above) provides principles, methods, sample policies, reference data, and an extensive bibliography; Volume 2 provides text and graphical examples with numerous illustrations to explain how conservators addressed the unique recording and documentation needs at each site.

Deciphering Jewish Gravestones; Philip Trauring; B&F: Jewish Genealogy and More; web page, 2020. Also available as a pdf.
A lengthy and very detailed description of common formats, styles, and contents of the epitaphs on Jewish gravestones, with very helpful introductory sections on the shape of Hebrew letters and their variations in carved stone, easily confused letters, and the interpretation of Hebrew acronyms and abbreviations. Generously illustrated and with numerous examples from actual stones to aid transcribers in correctly “deciphering” and interpreting epitaphs, the article is a helpful sequel to an earlier illustrated article on the visual meaning of Jewish gravestone symbols, on the same website.

Printed and Electronic Books

Journal Articles, Reports, and Web Pages