When I think “class field trip” and “research paper”, the first location that comes to mind is not usually the cemetery. Luckily for me, Transy has a way of breaking some stereotypes!
For my sophomore seminar history research methods course this spring, our final paper is based off of some research that we do at the cemetery! It does sound a little morbid, but no, we did not dig up bodies! We leave that to the anthropology students (just kidding, of course!)
Our assignment is to take a specific decade, find people that died during that decade, and create a idea of what society may have looked like at the time through the lens of a famous historian. It seems like a lot of work, and it is!
But first, a little background on the Lexington Cemetery…
Back in 1849, Lexington was hit with a huge cholera epidemic, and they needed a place to help to take care of burials for those who lost their lives. Right now, the cemetery has 170 acres of land, and more than 64,000 interments. It is home to many of the Breckinridges family, and also holds the Clay family, and Henry Clay himself (he has a really awesome monument there and it is a little intimidating). Some of the gravestones are exceptionally carved and are works of art in themselves. There is so much to learn from the headstones about the culture that they were created in.
Besides being full of historical fun, the Lexington Cemetery is gorgeous. I feel like we all may think that cemeteries tend to be gloomy places, but this place is breathtaking. It has the most beautiful trees and flowers, and even several ponds that have cute turtles in them. On a side-note, the geese there are just as mean as everywhere else, so stay away from them!
So, you may not have to do a research assignment like I do, but I would definitely suggest that you take a trip there and go for a walk!