I see dead peopleGranary and Copp's Hill Burying Grounds, Boston, MA

Boston colonial cemetery sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Okay, you’re going to think I’m a total weirdo for getting so excited over bunch of headstones (and I have many, many more sketches than these…), but since it’s Halloween this week, I figured I could get away with it. I have to tell you, I have a serious, major thing for colonial graveyards. My grandfather loved them, too. As a lifelong, dyed-in-the-wool New England Yankee, he knew where all the good ones were. I used to take the train up from Providence and then drive him around three states (uh, about a thirty mile radius, ’round those parts…) in his car, while he showed me all the best, oldest, and weirdest headstones he could remember, in every little town and village. If you want a whole colony’s worth of specimens in one place, though, you can’t beat Boston. My two favorite burial grounds there are like little cities, in and of themselves.

But I’m not into 300-year-old headstones for any normal reason, like colonial history or possible genealogical discoveries (though I’m not knockin’ that stuff). I love them because they’re literally monuments to early graphic design. Great typography? Check. Graphic symbolism? Heck, yeah. Amazingly inventive, refined and creepy illustration? In spades.

(Sorry. I can’t resist a grave-digging pun—not this close to Halloween.)

Boston colonial cemetery sketch by Chandler O'Leary

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Comments (3)

  1. Laura

    I love these drawings. The random colonial cemeteries of Boston are among my sharpest memories from my brief trip there years ago. Such history embedded in that city.


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