Monday, July 27, 2009
I did not take this rubbing, in fact because I live in Massachusetts, I have never done a gravestone rubbing. It is considered gravestone desecration and it against the law here.
I don't know if it is against the law in other states. This rubbing was done in Connecticut and probably many years ago. It is a reminder to all how well preserved this gravestone is to be able to do that.
At a recent meeting of one of my genealogist groups, a local history professor came to speak and talked about how he was having his undergraduate students do gravestone rubbings as part of their course.
I raised my hand and politely informed him that this was an illegal practice in Massachusetts and that he should be teaching gravestone photography instead. He replied that it wasn't the SAME and that he would continue to teach them to rub gravestones.
He quickly wrapped up his talk and headed for the door. Many people afterward remarked to me that he obviously knew it was illegal and they were surprised at how someone with so much education could be so disdainful and disrespectful of the dead and the law.
It occurs to me now that gravestone photography would be quicker and easier for his students to accomplish (and more educationally appropriate for 21st century learning and sharing online) and perhaps the time it took to make the gravestone rubbing and then to hang them somewhere in the college's halls (adding to his fame and reputation) was the point to the assignment in his mind.
I keep my eyes open for a newspaper article with photographs of his students doing rubbings so I can keep it to educate younger genealogists about the pitfalls of listening to educated people who do not have all the updated information they need to teach any subject.
Strangstad, Lynette. A Gravestone Preservation Primer. Altamira Press. 1995. Appendix D. Massachusetts Law Pertaining to Gravestone Preservation.