Initial THC Recommendations for CHCs packet was issued in 2016. The following revised recommendations were shared via the CHC listserv in 2020 to help CHCs resume activity that could be accomplished within social distancing guidelines. This revised set of recommendations highlights basic work that CHC chairs can address or delegate to fellow appointees.
Establish A Cemetery Preservation Network
Level 1 within THC’s Recommendation Framework prioritizes developing constructive relationships. To contribute to this goal, take time to communicate with THC cemetery staff and cemetery representatives. Here are some ideas on how to proceed.
- Gather contact information for county cemeteries, including contact information for cemeteries with or without affiliated organizations.
- Consider designating a CHC cemetery chair who will serve as the CHC’s primary contact for cemetery-related matters including interacting with cemetery contacts throughout the county, tracking CHC cemetery efforts, and submitting Historic Texas Cemetery (HTC) applications prepared by CHC.
- If CHC does not have the capacity or expertise for a cemetery chair, then try to find a county resident who has cemetery-related expertise to help the CHC address cemetery preservation needs in the county.
- Share THC web material with fellow appointees so that everyone can be informed about cemetery preservation standards of care.
- Decide if a cemetery committee is right for your CHC. If the CHC is involved heavily in cemetery work, this committee can help identify, prioritize, and implement cemetery-related work in a timely and efficient manner.
Share Information With THC Staff
Texas has an estimated 50,000 cemeteries. With just two staff assigned to its Cemetery Preservation Program, THC relies on each CHC to have a working knowledge of cemeteries in its county.
- Check CHC files and emails to ensure that issues related to pending HTC applications have been resolved. Contact THC staff and and/or application sponsors who have a stake in resolving the issue to secure an agreed upon resolution.
- Keep a list of the cemeteries in your county, noting physical conditions such as signage, fencing, maintenance of features and vegetation, and range of burial dates. Share this information with THC staff.
- Keep a running list of cemetery issues for CHC’s reference such as encroachment by adjacent property, weathering, lack of fencing, vandalism, and neglect. Contact THC staff to discuss prioritization of these issues and suggestions for how the CHC can address these issues.
Connect the Public to Cemetery Preservation Efforts
CHCs successfully work with the public to keep track of cemeteries, initiate HTC applications, and plan cemetery maintenance. Consider how these efforts present opportunities to educate and inspire.
- Help the public navigate the HTC application process, which is outlined here.
- When able, help citizens research cemetery histories and itemize preservation work for each cemetery. If this effort is more than appointees can manage, point interested individuals toward THC staff and cemetery web material located here.
- When sharing cemetery histories, consider related themes including settlement, migration, etc. that can be researched and used to expand the public’s understanding of the importance of historic cemeteries.
- Promote cemetery preservation efforts to illustrate CHC service and celebrate successful collaborations between your CHC and the public. Consider the CHC cemetery success stories here.