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Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory Revisited

MPI is proud to report completion of this wide-ranging, cutting-edge, urgent, amazing project.

Coordinator Glenn Wallace and project director Eileen McGuckian describe MCCI-R as a significant update of the Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory in terms of data, technology, and accessibility.  During 2018, staff trained 90 volunteers to visit all known burial sites in Montgomery County.  Project volunteers assessed conditions, completed survey forms, noted GPS coordinates, conducted additional research, and took a variety of photographs to capture the current environment.  Staff converted all previous efforts into Excel spreadsheets, added new sites and ID numbers, provided FindaGrave links or created new entries, and utilized maps and other sources to garner additional data.

As a result of this project, solid new information is available on Montgomery County cemeteries. Each survey contains additional fields (ownership, safety concerns, designation status).  New sites were added, some sites believed lost were found, and a few sites erroneously thought to be cemetery locations were removed from the list.  Another result—bolstered by two local protection laws passed in 2017, effective in 2018—was more attention to and concern about local burial sites.

The Final Report, submitted in December 2018, includes Summaries and Statistics derived from MCCI-R project, Recommendations for Moving Forward and Next Steps, and multiple specific lists of sites: endangered sites to watch, to survey with GPS, in need of clean-up and improvements, African American sites, sites to revisit in winter and those pending further research.

Continue to Historic Cemeteries for the full article.

2018 Maryland Burial Sites Legislation

In a session where major issues of gun control, school safety and funding, climate change and medical coverage captured the headlines, the General Assembly took time to protect Maryland’s history and sacred burial sites. The effort required 2 bold sponsors, a core group of resolute advocates, 5 House and Senate committees, and hundreds of emails and phone calls to pass the first burial sites legislation since the 1990s. Governor Larry Hogan signed HB877 and SB1242 on May 8, and the laws went into effect a month later.

While half of the changes proposed by the Coalition to Protect Maryland Burial Sites and allies did not survive in committees, the Coalition is happy to report that starting on June 1, 2018, descendants and caretakers gained easier access, owners are now required to consult with the Maryland Historical Trust about conservation treatment, and Maryland counties and towns are authorized to provide a property tax credit related to burial sites.

Appreciation goes to bill sponsors Delegate Tony Knotts of Prince George’s County and Senator Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City, to the Maryland Association of Counties, David Zinner, Funeral Consumers Alliance, The War of 1812 Society in Maryland, and to all Marylanders who urged legislators to improve state law for the benefit of abandoned and neglected cemeteries.

The precise new wording in sections of the Annotated Code of Maryland can be found on www.cpmbs.org

Documenting and Protecting Montgomery County Burial Sites

Two ground-breaking laws passed by a unanimous County Council and a huge initiative led by MPI are boosting odds for the survival of all local burial sites. In October 2017, the Council tasked the Montgomery County Planning Board with management of an inventory of cemeteries in our county.  The timing was perfect, as even before the effective date of February 9, 2018, MPI was prepared to begin the Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory Revisited project to document all known cemeteries here. Under the enthusiastic and steady hand of project coordinator Glenn Wallace, this initiative is right on schedule, with volunteers in the field as you read this.  Learn about this project on the Historic Cemeteries page of this website.

The second new County law is designed to protect burial sites during any subdivision and development process.  To be effective on July 1, 2018, a new full-time dedicated employee at Montgomery Planning must be included in the County’s FY19 Operating Budget.

Both of these laws will aid property owners, descendants, and advocates to identify all cemeteries in Montgomery County as well to enable their survival for the appreciation of current and future generations. MPI thanks the lead sponsors of these bills—Council members Berliner, Leventhal, and Rice—and all Council members who voted to protect local burial sites.

Advocates for local cemeteries can soon rest a bit easier because sites will be listed in an official inventory that covers the entire County, including municipalities with their own planning and zoning authority, and that all cemeteries will be protected during the subdivision and development process. This is a solid victory for all of our cemeteries — of whatever size and age, in neglected or good condition, of religious or family background, whether African American or White in origin, or whether currently in the news or quietly waiting in the background to be documented and rejuvenated.

Read more about  Montgomery County Cemetery Inventory Revisited project.

Review Bill 24-17 Land Use Information and SRA 17-01 Approval Procedures.
Land Use Information – Burial sites
Approval Procedures – Burial sites

More information will be added to this website as the project progresses.

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