Before 1990, it wasn’t safe to be dead in Rhode Island. Although the destruction of graves has been a felony since 1896, this did not stop property developers and road builders from destroying cemeteries that got in their way. And it did not stop antiquarians and curious property owners from digging up bodies. Charlotte Taylor, State Archaeologist of Rhode Island, will take you on a journey through this dark history into today’s era of stronger laws and more engaged advocacy for Rhode Islanders who can no longer speak for themselves. She will present both atrocities and stories of successful, respectful preservation, plus the on-going challenges facing our state’s cemeteries.
This program is presented in conjunction with Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Awareness and Preservation Weeks, April-May 2023. Find more programs at preservation.ri.gov/ricw
Charlotte Taylor works for the state as the principal archaeologist at the RI Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission (RIHPHC). There she reviews projects that might affect archaeological sites and cemeteries, maintains an archive of information on the state’s sites, including burial places, and serves as RIHPHC’s representative to the RI Historical Cemetery Commission. She is one of the first people in the state to be called when (old) skeletal remains are found.