During April and May, the Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission and the Rhode Island Advisory Commission on Historical Cemeteries will host “Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Awareness & Preservation Weeks”. Events held across the state include cemetery tours, clean-ups, gravestone conservation demonstrations, and free outdoor programs designed to raise awareness regarding historic cemeteries in Rhode Island and the importance of preserving them.

Over 2,833 historic cemeteries have been identified in Rhode Island. These include large public burial grounds, quaint church graveyards, small family cemeteries upon old farms and the resting places of former slaves, soldiers, paupers, dignitaries and Native Americans. Each burial location contains the story of a life or lives, and is a lesson in the culture, religious practices and artistry of times past.

On April 3, a group of volunteers will be working in Rhode Island Historical Cemetery #37, otherwise known as the Lewis Card Cemetery in Richmond. This small burial ground originally contained at least 10 graves but at least two of the interments were later moved to another cemetery. Volunteers are asked to meet at the park & ride located at I-95 and Route 138. If you are able, please bring shovels, small garden tools, trowels, gloves or soft brushes. Also be sure to have bug spray and water and make sure you wear full-coverage clothing to protect you from scrapes. Prepare to get a bit dirty. The rain-date will be April 24.

To volunteer at RI Cemetery #37, or the many others across the state which are scheduled for clean-up and maintenance in the coming months, please email Dory Wagner at: dorwagg@aol.com.

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