Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

The Deathscape of St. Paul: Historic Cemeteries as Cultural Landscapes Public Deposited

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  • A cultural landscape analysis of two historic cemeteries in St. Paul, Oregon demonstrates that the residents of this early community were unknowingly using grave markers to express their worldview and the identities that they felt were most important. Because of the historical and cultural development of this community as the heart of Catholicism in the Northwest, an environment was created where one's diverse ethnic identity was second to a shared Catholic identity. Even though the mortuary landscape of St. Paul reflects the population's unique historical trajectory, the people here were still participating in cultural trends that affected much of European American society in the nineteenth century. Among these were ostentatious mortuary displays, as well as a heavy emphasis on family, as seen in both marker inscriptions and the spatial patterning of the graveyard. The importance of family was also reflected in cemetery selection during the years that both the Pioneer and St. Paul's cemeteries were active. A close look at the erosion of St. Paul's deathscape reveals that certain factors were influencing who was represented in the cultural landscape. Though some have claimed that sex was a dominant indicator, this does not prove to be true in St. Paul's cemetery. Age, however, is an important indicator as is ethnicity. Though this proves to be an important variable, it is not because of a link to perceived status. Evidence from other cemeteries points to Irish Catholics putting higher priority on mortuary display than French Catholics, a pattern that is also upheld in St. Paul's Cemetery.
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