Book highlights Laurel Hill Cemetery
Earlier thismonth, Carol Yaster and RachelWolgemuth released their new book, “Images of America: Laurel Hill Cemetery.” The book is part of a series published by Arcadia Publishing and focuses on the historical Laurel Hill Cemetery, located in East Falls.
Yaster and Wolgemuth both work with Laurel Hill Cemetery— Yaster as the board president for the Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery and Wolgemuth as an administrator with West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home. The cemetery was in need of a history book and many visitors had asked for one, so when Arcadia Publishing approached Laurel Hill Cemetery about writing a book, the two women decided to put their combined experience and interest together to write one.
“The cemetery has needed a book about its history for a long time,” Yaster said. “Years back, when the cemetery first opened, therewas a guidebook. But there hasn’t been anything like that in at least 160 years.”
She went on to explain that she doesn’t view “Images of America: LaurelHill Cemetery” as a guidebook, though.
“It’s really more for people who want to know the history of the place,” she said
Wolgemuth echoed this sentiment, saying, “Carol and I hope readers unfamiliar with the cemetery will learn about what an amazing and important cultural and historic site it is.”
And for those readerswho already know and love Laurel Hill Cemetery, she said, “We hope they learn something new, or see a photo they’ve never seen before.”
Wolgemuth and Yaster worked for about sixmonths conducting research into the cemetery’s history and have compiled a book consisting primarily of photographs and short excerpts about the cemetery. The book is filled with photographs of the cemetery and its occupants, many of which were taken by Emma Stern, a photographer with whom Wolgemuth and Yaster worked.
Yaster explained that in addition to the photos taken by Stern, she and Wolgumuth were able to obtain quite a few from cemetery records, local universities and libraries and from families whose loved ones are buried on the cemetery’s grounds.
“Images of America: LaurelHill Cemetery” is broken into seven chapters, excluding the introduction and acknowledgements. Each chapter focuses either on a section of the cemetery (North, South, Stoever Tract and Central) or on a piece of its history (origins and decline and renewal). Finally, the book concludes with a section about the organization as it exists today.
While thewritten history throughout the book provides readers with a look into the cemetery’s history and local significance, the book’s real draw are the nearly 200 photographs on its pages. Throughout the total 127 pages, Yaster and Wolgemuth have provided readerswith plenty of blackand-white photographs of the cemetery’s 78 acres and its many occupants, as well as maps, letters and diary entries in which the cemetery is referenced.
Both authors described the experience of putting “Images of America: Laurel Hill Cemetery” together as a fun one, saying they hope readers will learn something new and be encouraged to visit the cemetery.
Yaster did clarify that while the book is not intended to serve as a traditional guidebook, any visitors who are interested in visiting a specific grave or spot they read about in the book can ask for directions at the cemetery’s visitor center.
“Images of America: Laurel Hill Cemetery” was released Aug. 7 and is now available for sale online and in stores. The book is currently available for $21.99 on Arcadia Publishing’s website. Alternatively, “Images of America: Laurel Hill Cemetery” can be purchased in stores or through a number of online booksellers.