Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Parson, Ruben L.

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Geography


Cemeteries--Illinois--Forest Park; Forest Park (Ill.)


This treatise is an introduction to the subject of funeral and burial customs. The study of a particular town "packed" with cemeteries is ideal for a community approach. The reason for the physical and geographical approach is a decisive one concerning location of the burial grounds. This factor is also influenced by the author's subject of study and teaching in the field of geography and science. Burial practices, funeral customs, and the resulting establishments for body disposal are the primary subjects for discussion. Burial practices range from ancient history to the present, funeral customs cover the same span to include the three present and most common methods; interment, cremation, and preservation. Mummies, cannibals. Vikings, Bushmen, Indians, and Romans are a few of the many subjects discussed. Burial duties, manners and rights of burial and deseased, codes of ethics, laws of sepulture, funeral expenses, and even taxes are included in this study. The cemetery and modern funeral customs are discussed: the cemetery and its influence on a particular town, and funeral practices as they apply nationally. A short history of Forest Park, Illinois, is included, as it applies to this subject. Within this village the number of living inhabitants are outnumbered by the dead beneath the ground by a large ratio. The town, with its many cemeteries and their features, is examined with reference to other businesses, transportation, and pioneer residence, and illustrated by maps and pictures. The historical, cultural, and physical elements are considered; however, the conclusion is such that the physical nature of a region determines indirectly or directly where and how one shall be buried. Customs and religious beliefs are relevant to climate, topography, and natural disasters. These have been observed and abided by even as to method, time, type, and place of burial. Presented is an outline of the geography of Forest Park, Illinois and its immediate surroundings, and especially, in as simple a manner as possible, the course of events by which that geography was developed. It is meant to give such an account of the region about the city that the interpretation of local phenomena such as burial may be more easily and more generally understood. With tax exemption for cemeteries, with funeral lobbies, and with poor records of attempts to change costs and practices, it would appear that the average citizen has little chance of beating the high coat of dying. If you still Insist on doing so, you have only three choices: you must make strict arrangement in advance for an austere funeral, a plan which may be upset by your survivors; or you must join a co-operative enterprise; or you must will your body to some institution. If you do none of these things, statistics show that even the most scrupulous funeral director will probably hand your family a bill for at least 750 dollars—a figure that will get your body to the edge of the grave, but not into it. All in all, the final journey will probably be the most expensive ride you've ever taken. None of the behavior here described is considered quaint or whimsical. Much American itinerary behavior might seem quaint or whimsical to a Martian observer, but this is not written for him. It is written for the interested earth citizens who are going to live and die in American communities, those who are going to make the last decisions. They may want to base their decisions on the information provided here. This material is planned to help them. It does not make their decisions for them; it aims, instead, at giving them a foundation on which they can make their own.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations and maps.


3, viii, 168 pages




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