Book high­lights Lau­rel Hill Ceme­tery

The Review - - Front Page - By Kier­stenMcMona­gle For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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.

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