About This Lesson
This lesson plan is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file, "Mount Auburn Cemetery" (photographs), and other documents related to the cemetery. It was produced in collaboration with the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative. Janet Heywood, Director of Interpretive Programs at Mount Auburn Cemetery, and Cathleen Lambert Breitkreutz, formerly Assistant Director of Interpretive Programs, wrote Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape. Jean West, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff edited the lesson. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
This lesson looks at cemeteries and attitudes towards death and burial. Teachers are advised to judge the emotional state and maturity level of their students before using these materials.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson plan focuses on the development of new attitudes toward death, nature, and family life in the early 19th century, a time of rapidly growing urban centers and changing ideals. It can be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units on urbanization and reform movements.
Time period: Early to mid 19th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To examine the historical causes that led to the founding of Mount Auburn Cemetery.
2) To describe the role that Mount Auburn cemetery played in early 19th-century leisure activities and the development of other rural cemeteries.
3) To analyze the landscape character of Mount Auburn Cemetery and explain how landscape
qualities can affect visitors' emotions and feelings.
4) To compare the origin, design, and use of a cemetery or park in their own community with Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps of the site and surrounding region;
2) three readings about Mount Auburn's history and landscape design;
3) six drawings of Mount Auburn;
4) one photo of Mount Auburn.
Visiting the site
Mount Auburn Cemetery is located at the Watertown-Cambridge border, about 4 miles from downtown Boston and about one mile west of Harvard Square. The grounds are open every day of the year from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with extended hours to 7:00 p.m. in the summer. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Mount Auburn remains an active cemetery and also offers a wide variety of tours and lectures throughout the year. For more information, contact the Mount Auburn Cemetery, 580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge, MA 02138 or visit their website.