Publication Date


Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Roadside memorials in Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, and Warren Counties in south central Kentucky mark the sites of automobile fatalities. These informal memorials are construced by family or friends of the deceased. Thirty-one memorials are found throughout these five counties. The majority of these memorials take on one of three forms: crosses, crosses with flowers, and standing styrofoam-based flower arrangements. Crosses, particularly white wooden crosses, are the most common element in these memorials. Unlike most death-related material culture studies, this research is built heavily upon interviews and conversations with those who construct and maintain the memorials. Much of the analysis of this thesis consists of in-depth explorations of particular roadside memorials and the meanings they have to those who constructed and maintain them. The memorials are explored within the larger context of regional death memorials in general. This larger context includes personal memorials, cemetery decoration, public memorials, and newspaper memorials.



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