Cemetery Research and Preservation

The National Park Service and the Association for Graveyard Studies offer a great deal of information regarding cemetery preservation and documentation.

Kentucky Cemetery Laws

Please familiarize yourself with the Kentucky Cemetery Laws, especially KRS 433.660 and KRS 525.115 Violating Graves. Violation of these statutes is considered vandalism and is a punishable offense. Remember: just because someone doesn't have malicious intent, doesn't mean they aren't violating the law.

Boone County Cemetery Guidelines

Cemetery Access

Property owners must provide access to descendants of those buried in the cemetery, but can determine frequency of access. However, permission to access the property may be denied to anyone who is not a descendant. Anyone accessing private property without explicit permission from the property owner is subject to trespassing laws. It is advised that you receive confirmation in writing before proceeding on private property.

Grave Stone Cleaning

D/2 Biological Cleaner is approved for use in all Boone County cemeteries (as well as the National Park Service). BCPL staff have used it in several cemeteries in the county and the results are excellent. It is the best non-invasive way to clean stones. Basically, you spray dry stones with a 2:1 or 3:1 solution/water mix and let it go. It works over a period of three to six months with no scrubbing. Samples of the D/2 product are available upon request. Please contact localhistory@bcpl.org for more information.

Grave Stone Photography: Do's & Don'ts

  • DO leave all stones in place where they lay.
  • DO use a SOFT bristle brush to remove loose debris from stone.
  • DO spray the face of the stone lightly with water or D/2 cleaner ONLY to enhance the inscription.
  • DO use mirrors or a flashlight to reflect light to enhance the inscriptions.
  • DO use an umbrella, blanket, etc. to shade the stone to enhance the inscription.
  • DO use a black and white camera filter/film, etc. to enhance the inscription.
  • DO remember you are a visitor for a short time.
  • DO NOT move any stone from it's current location. (Current placement is key to identifying grave location.)
  • DO NOT dig up any buried stones. (Current placement is key to identifying grave location.)
  • DO NOT lay any foreign object directly on the stone. (Stone may be fragile or unstable.)
  • DO NOT use chalk on inscriptions. (Think of chalk as fine sand paper, which erodes over time.)
  • DO NOT do “rubbings” of inscriptions. (Some of the stones are not sturdy and may tip/break under pressure.)

Grave Stone Repair

The Boone County Planning Commission, the Boone County Historic Preservation Review Board and the Boone County Public Library advise that grave stone repair only be conducted by a professional mason. Standard practice is to leave buried stones buried- the ground actually keeps erosion at a minimum. What cemetery preservationists have found over time is that epoxies accelerate erosion around the repair. We in Boone County understand this is a conservative approach to tombstone repair, but we have seen well-intentioned repairs go wrong over a period of years and decades.

Volunteer Activities & Expectations

Volunteers like yourself have done tremendous work within Boone County cemeteries by cleaning away invasive weeds and brush, petitioning owners to erect fences and photo documenting standing stones. We appreciate the time and effort you are making to help us maintain our greatest historic asset in a manner appropriate to the long term preservation and maintenance of these resources. We expect every researcher to follow cemetery preservation guidelines and best practices.

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