Learn More

If this introduction to Madison’s Forest Hill Cemetery has left you wanting to find out more about this particular cemetery or about cemeteries in general, here are some suggestions for where you can go to learn more. Cemeteries are endlessly fascinating if only you approach them with an open, inquiring mind, and we hope the perspectives and resources we’ve shared with you on this site have given you the tools for a lifetime of exploration. Enjoy!

More on Forest Hill Cemetery:

There are two books that anyone should own who wishes to explore the graves of Forest Hill Cemetery and of Resurrection Cemetery, the Catholic cemetery on the other side of Speedway Road from Forest Hill. Historic Madison, Inc., has published two wonderful guides with brief biographies of many of the individuals buried here. The full citations for these books are listed immediately below, and Historic Madison has generously given us permission also to make them available for download in searchable PDF format in case you want to access them electronically. We frankly recommend both the digital and published versions, so we’ve included links to the Historic Madison, Inc. website for anyone who wants to order the printed versions of these books as well.

Forest Hill Cemetery Committee of Historic Madison, Inc. A Biographical Guide to Forest Hill Cemetery: The Ordinary and Famous Women and Men Who Shaped Madison and the World. Revised and Expanded, Madison: Historic Madison, Inc., 2002. This essential reference work to Forest Hill should be in the library of anyone interested in Forest Hill.
For PDF Download (178MB; please be patient!):
To purchase  printed book:

Resurrection Cemetery Committee of Historic Madison, Inc. Bishops to Bootleggers: A Biographical Guide to Resurrection Cemetery, Madison, Wisconsin: More of the Ordinary and Famous Women and Men Who Shaped Madison and the World. Madison: Historic Madison, Inc., 1999.
For PDF Download (97MB; please be patient!):
To purchase  printed book:

Official Forest Hill website:

Official Search Tool for Locating Forest Hill Graves:

Historic Madison’s Walking Tour of Forest Hill:

Wisconsin Veterans Museum Talking Spirits Forest Hill Tour:
This annual tour of Forest Hill is well worth taking. Actors dress up as and depict the lives of historical figures buried in some of the cemetery’s most interesting graves.

Official Veterans’ Affairs National Cemetery Administration Forest Hill website:

Surrounded by Reality’s Guide to Notable Forest Hill Cemetery Graves:

Nadine Goff’s Four-Part Web Tour of Forest Hill, 2006:

Haswell, Susan. “Forest Hill: Madison’s Rural Cemetery, 1857-1878.” Journal of Historic Madison, Inc. 11 (1993): 3-20.

Hronek, Angela. “Forest Hill Cemetery: Everyday Life and Miniaturization in Madison’s Silent Suburb.” Master’s Thesis. On file in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. 2015.


General Web Resources about Cemeteries:

Find a Grave: http://www.findagrave.com

Wikipedia entry on “Cemetery”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cemetery

Association for Gravestone Studies:
Much useful information and many links to other cemetery-related resources.

Stone Quarries and Beyond:
Lots of resources for learning about stone quarrying and carving.

Reed College Study Guide for Reading Gravestones:

Family Research Library, “Successful Cemetery Research,” 2006:

National Cemetery Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Available Emblems of Belief for Placement on Government Headstones and Markers”:

National Funeral Directors Association:
This is the professional organization for funeral directors. Although some of its content is available only to members, you can still learn a lot about this industry from the public pages. See, for instance, the “About Funeral Service: Trends and Statistics” page, which is updated annually with many useful statistics.

“Funeral Costs and Pricing Checklist,” Federal Trade Commission:

Bess Lovejoy, “Fond Farewells,” Lapham Quarterly 6:4 (Fall 2013):
Retrospective on Jessica Mitford’s An American Way of Death.

Post Mortem: Death Investigation in America:
These three pages house the results of an excellent, collaborative 2011 investigation on death in the United States by PBS’s Frontline,” NPR, and ProPublica. Here, you can find information on the nation’s death investigation system made up of 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices, as well as the challenges posed by unexpected or unusual deaths.

Interview with Keith Eggener, author of Cemeteries, published in the Atlantic:

Tate Williams, “In the Garden Cemetery: The Revival of America’s First Urban Parks,” American Forests (Spring-Summer 2014):
(A good article on recent recreational uses of historic cemeteries.)

Anna Clark, “Designing for the Dead: The Perfect City Cemetery,” Next City:
Describes the City of Austin, Texas’s planning process for their Cemetery Master Plan. The plan mixes historic preservation and innovative strategies in an effort to create an ideal urban resting place.

Other Notable Cemeteries:

Mount Auburn (Cambridge, MA): http://mountauburn.org
(Undoubtedly the most influential cemetery in American history, Mount Auburn inspired rural cemeteries and romantic parks all across the country, including Central Park in Manhattan and Forest Hill in Madison. See also readings by Blanche Linden below.)

Green-Wood (Brooklyn, NY): http://www.green-wood.com

Green Mount (Baltimore, MD): http://greenmountcemetery.com

Forest Lawn (Buffalo, NY): http://www.forest-lawn.com

Arlington National Cemetery: http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

Colma, California: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colma,_California
(This unusual town southwest of San Francisco is devoted almost entirely to cemeteries, serving as it does as the largest burial ground for San Francisco itself.)

Further Reading:

Ames, Kenneth. “Ideologies in Stone: Meanings in Victorian Gravestones.” Journal of Popular Culture 14:4 (1981): 641-656.

Bender, Thomas. “The ‘Rural’ Cemetery Movement: Urban Travail and the Appeal of Nature.” New England Quarterly 47:2 (June 1974): 196-211.

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. Your Guide to Cemetery Research for Geneaologists, Researchers, and Family Historians. Betterway Books, 2002.

Coutts, Christopher, et al., Planning for the Deceased, Planning Advisory Service Report (Chicago: American Planning Association, 2013).  (The report examines the challenges that final disposition presents to planners and the communities in which they work.  It outlines the history of burial and cremation in the United States, evaluates past, present, and future trends in after-death practices, analyzes the land-use regulations that shape disposition decisions, and explores emerging alternatives to traditional internment practices.)

Crosby, Betsy. “The Resurrection of Congressional Cemetery: Historic Capitol Cemetery Revived by Local Preservationists.” Preservation Magazine 64:1 (January-February 2012). Online: http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2012/jan-feb/congressional-cemetery.html

Eggener, Keith. Cemeteries. Norton/Library of Congress Visual Sourcebooks in Architecture, Design, and Engineering. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010.

French, Stanley. “The Cemetery as Cultural Institution: The Establishment of Mount Auburn and the ‘Rural Cemetery’ Movement.” In Death in America, edited by David E. Stannard. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1975: 69-91.

Keister, Douglas. Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2004. (One of the best available field guides for interpreting the changing designs and symbols of American cemeteries. Keister has also produced more focused photographic guides to cemeteries in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and the American South.)

Llewellyn, John F. A Cemetery Should Be Forever: The Challenge to Managers and Directors. Glendale, CA: Tropico Press, 1998. (A fascinating guide to the business of managing cemeteries.)

Linden, Blanche. Silent City on a Hill: Picturesque Landscapes of Memory and Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989. (Superb illustrated history of the most important influential Romantic rural cemetery in the United States, a direct inspiration for Forest Hill.)

Linden-Ward, Blanche. “Strange but Genteel Pleasure Grounds: Tourist and Leisure Uses of Nineteenth-Century Rural Cemeteries,” in Cemeteries and Gravemarkers: Voices of American Culture, edited by Richard E. Meyer, 293-328. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989.

Mills, Cynthia J. Beyond Grief: Sculpture and Wonder In the Gilded Age Cemetery. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, 2014.

Poole, Robert M. On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery. New York: Walker Books, 2009.

Roach, Mary. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. New York: W. W. Norton, 2003.

Rutherford, Sarah. The Victorian Cemetery. Botley, Oxford: Shire Books, 2009. (Brief British introduction to this important topic.)

Sachs, Aaron. Arcadian America: the Death and Life of an Environmental Tradition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013.

Schuyler, David and Patricia M. O’Donnell. “Chapter Three: The History and Preservation of Urban Parks and Cemeteries.” In Preserving Cultural Landscapes in America, edited by Arnold Alanen and Robert Melnick, 70-93. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Segal, Joshua L. A Field Guide to Visiting a Jewish Cemetery. Bennington, NH: Jewish Cemetery Publications LLC, 2005.

Sloane, David Charles. The Last Great Necessity: Cemeteries in American History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991. (Highly recommended, though unfortunately out of print: one of best available overviews of American cemetery history.)

Yalom, Marilyn. The American Resting Place: 400 Years of History Through Our Cemeteries and Burial Grounds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008.