California Historic Cemetery Alliance

"Joining hands with the past...for the present and for the future."

Protecting - Restoring - Educating - Preserving

The Background

Many of our historic cemeteries are threatened by neglect, vandalism and development. Others are threatened by simply being forgotten and, as the tombstones and markers vanish, so essentially does any physical evidence of the cemetery. Property title might not even include the notation of a cemetery, even though its presence had been documented. Other historic cemeteries are simply being reused, with beautiful old old monuments destroyed and new burials over old.

The California Historic Cemetery Alliance (CHCA) was formed to assist in the networking of those people interested in protecting, restoring and preserving our historic cemeteries throughout California.

March 1999 marked the first gathering of the CHCA, which was formed under the auspices of the Sacramento Historic Old City Cemetery Committee.

The CHCA is a "grassroots" organization which meets every few months in Sacramento or at various cemetery sites throughout Northern California. Several members are already working with Assemblymembers and Senators to pass legislation to help protect these historic treasures. Oregon, Washington State and Texas already have State Commissions or Agencies to assist in the protection of historic cemeteries.

2001 Goals

  • Obtain 501 (c) 3 Status
  • Publish a Newsletter for Members and Interested Parties
  • Re-introduce Legislation to Establish California Historic Cemeteries Commission
  • Strengthen Political Position with State and Federal Officials
  • Establish Temporary Solution for Historic Cemetery Preservation, until Commision is activated
  • Develop alliances with Cemetery Preservation Organizations in other Western States and British Columbia

Legislation

In 2000 CHCA worked on State legislation to establish a State Historic Cemeteries Commission. After some minor ammendments, AB1779 passed the Assembly and Senate with nearly unanimous support. Though preliminary information from the Governor's office did not seem to indicate any opposition, the Governor vetoed the bill in the final hours of the session, thus negating any override efforts. We will be introducing similar legislation early in the 2001-2002 session. If you would like to contact the Governor's Office to indicate your support a Sample Letter is available for your reference.

Membership

How Do I Get Started on a Project to Save My Local Historic Cemetery?

How Can I Help?

Minutes of Last Meeting

On Saturday, November 4, 2000 a meeting of CHCA was called to order at The Old Sacramento City Cemetery by Dr. Bob LaPerriere, Chairman. A good representation of Northern California members were present. After introductions there were some brief discussions of the status of several historic cemeteries. There were numerous ideas shared concerning both short and long term strategies for cemetery preservation.

Dr. Bob gave an update on AB1779, which was vetoed at the end of the legislative session. It is believed that the Governor had funding issues with the bill, but Dr. Bob will follow up with the Governor's Office to determine the exact reason for the Governor's response. Dr. Bob will also see what the State is willing to do on an interim basis to protect historic cemeteries until a Commission is formed.

Dr. Bob attended a Conference with the Oregon Historic Cemeteries Association. After a panel discussion with historic cemetery representatives from Washington, Oregon, California and British Columbia it was determined that there is interest in forming a Western coalition of these groups to encourage improved communication and political advocacy.

Goals for 2001 were discussed and will be posted on the website.

Dr. Bob shared some interesting publications relating to cemeteries,cemetery research and archaic medical terms.

Thanks to efforts by Dr. Bob and Mary Ellen Jones, a publication documenting the California Historic Cemeteries-Outdoor Museums exhibit will be published and made available.

Next Meeting

Upcoming Events

Be sure not to miss the 2001 Western Meeting of the Association for Gravestone Studies - August 2001 at Mills College in Oakland, CA. This is sure to be an informative event and a tremendous opportunity for West Coast gravestone scholars. More information will be available here in the first few months of 2001 or check the website for the Association for Gravestone Studies from the link below.

Recent News Articles

Photo Gallery

Please send photos of your historic cemetery. This is the place where you can illustrate both the devastating damage of neglect and vandalism, as well as successes in restoration and preservation. Acknowledge volunteers and show work in progress. A two line caption will be permitted with each photo. CHCA members will be given space preference, but all submissions will be given viewing time on a rotational basis.

Selected Links

California Historic Cemeteries Reference Links Page

Please visit the websites of some California Historic Cemeteries by clicking over to our Cemetery Links Page.

Missing Gravemarkers and Headstones

If you are in possession of a gravemarker or headstone which needs to be returned to its rightful place, please contact us and we will post a photo or pertinent information to try to locate its proper home.

Please help us by your support, to ensure that our pioneers, early settlers and other Californians are not buried and forgotten...we consider this a Grave Injustice.


Dr. Bob LaPerriere, Chairman

CHCA

POB 255345

Sacramento, CA 95865-5345

Please email us at:California Historic Cemetery Alliance

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Karell Reader

Last updated: November 22, 2000

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