Over My Dead Body: A Lively Tour of Famous American Cemeteries

Join us to explore the history of how, where and why we bury our dead. Melville will take us on a lively, wide-ranging tour of the history of famous American cemeteries—places that have mirrored passing eras but have also shaped them. Cemeteries gave birth to landscape architecture and famous parks, as well as influenced architectural styles. They’ve inspired and motivated some of our greatest poets and authors—Emerson, Whitman, Dickinson. They’ve also been used as political tools to shift the country’s discourse and as important symbols of the United States's ambition and geographical reach. 


But cemeteries are changing and starting to fade away in the 21st century. Burying embalmed bodies is incredibly toxic, and although cremations are now even more popular than burials, they’re not great for the environment either. 

A summer job cutting grass at his hometown cemetery inspired Melville to explore every issue surrounding cemeteries—history, sustainability, land use, and more—but above all to think about what it really means to memorialize the lives of those we love.

Cemeteries in Over My Dead Body

Shawsheen Cemetery in Bedford, Massachusetts

The 1607 Burial Ground in Historic Jamestowne, Virginia

Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts

Colonial Jewish Burial Ground in Newport, Rhode Island

Monticello’s African American Graveyard in Charlottesville, Virginia

Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York

Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah, Georgia

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts

Central Park in New York, New York

Gettysburg National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia

Woodlawn Cemetery in Bronx, New York

Boothill Graveyard in Tombhill, Arizona

Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glenwood, California

The Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California

Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles, California

Nature's Sanctuary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


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Author photo by Ann Marie Johnson.

Image - Greg Melville

Greg Melville

Journalist; Magazine Editor; Navy Veteran; English and Writing Teacher, United States Naval Academy; Author, Over My Dead Body: Unearthing the Hidden History of America's Cemeteries

Image - George Hammond

In Conversation with George Hammond

Author, Conversations With Socrates