Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Carol Crowe-Carraco, Francis Thompson, Lowell Harrison

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


Through the ages, survivors have experienced loss due to the deaths of their contemporaries. Between 1870 and 1910, the people of south central Kentucky (Allen, Barren, Butler, Edmonson, Logan, Monroe, Simpson and Warren counties) used significant expressions of grief. Combining oral history with primary correspondence, journals, scrapbooks and mementos, this study determines the importance that area residents placed on deathbed accounts, the care given the deceased's body, the funeral service, obituaries, resolutions of respect, memorial poetry, condolence letters, photography, memorial cards and pictures, hair wreaths, mourning attire and jewelry, the gravesite, and the tombstone. In almost every instance, south central Kentuckians incorporated into these expressions the themes of the peaceful departure, the existence of a blissful Heaven where the deceased awaited reunion with the survivors, and the ultimate dependence of the mourner on God's omniscience. Acceptance of these beliefs, which were echoing the hymns and popular literature of the period, allowed the bereaved family and friends to accept death as they experienced it between 1870 and 1910.


Anthropology | Arts and Humanities | Folklore | History | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social History