Author Abby Burnett to speak to the Historical Society
on her book, “Gone to the Grave”
Before there was a death care industry where professional funeral directors offered embalming and other services, residents of the Arkansas Ozarks buried their own dead. Every part of the complicated, labor-intensive process was handled within the deceased’s community. Author and Journalist Abby Burnett has carefully researched the early customs of Arkansas burials and included them in her book, Gone to the Grave: Burial Customs of the Arkansas Ozarks, 1850-1950.
Burnett, who lives in Kingston, Arkansas, will be the Guest Speaker for the Baxter County Historical and Genealogical Society at the monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 24, at the Baxter County Library.
Gone to the Grave might be called a meticulous “autopsy” of this now vanished way of life and death. Abby Burnett documents mourning and practical rituals through interviews, diaries and reminiscences, obituaries, and a wide variety of other sources. She covers attempts to stave off death; passings which for various reasons could not be mourned according to tradition; factors contributing to high maternal and infant mortality; and the ways in which loss was expressed though obituaries and epitaphs. She also examines early undertaking practices and the many angles funeral industry professionals worked to convince the public of the need for their services.
Allyn Lord, the Director of Springdale’s Shiloh Museum of Ozark History says Abby Burnett’s “painstakingly researched and thoroughly engaging book is as much an anthropological and sociological study as it is a historical and folklorist account of death, dying, and burial in the Arkansas Ozarks….there is virtually no source of information that Burnett hasn’t explored.…”
Abby Burnett will illustrate her talk with a number of photographs and artifacts. She will have copies of her book available for purchase and will be glad to sign the books purchased.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 24, at 6:00 p.m. in the Knox Room of The Donald W. Reynolds Library Serving Baxter County, at 300 Library Hill. The meeting is free and everyone is welcome to attend.
For further information please call 425-2551.
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