Leigh Davis' audio installation Vigil engages the power of loss and memory through song. The work is rooted in her membership with the Threshold Choir, a community of women continuing the ancient tradition of bedside singing to the dying. The work is installed in Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel, a sacred space that has provided a place of solace and comfort for those grieving for over a century. Visitors can sit with others or move around at their own leisure. Those listening are encouraged to contemplate the complexity of mourning on both a personal and collective level.
In 1960, a young Lisandro Perez came to America from Cuba with his parents. Today a professor of Latin American and Latinx studies at John Jay College, Perez has devoted his career to the study of the Cuban and Cuban American presence in nineteenth-century New York. His book, Sugar, Cigars, and Revolution: The Making of Cuban New York, explores how Cuban émigrés flocked to the city in search of education and wealth, to evade royal authority, and even to plot a revolution! Many of the individuals whose stories tell this tale are interred at Green-Wood. Perez will join Green-Wood Historian Jeff Richman to talk about his wonderful book, which has just been awarded the 2020 Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York history and received honorable mention at the 2019 CASA Literary Prize for Studies on Latinos in the United States, given by La Casa de las Américas.
Elizabeth Mitchell’s new book Lincoln’s Lie: A True Civil War Caper Through Fake News, Wall Street, and the White House, transports us back to 1864 for a dramatic journey of scandal and intrigue. Mitchell weaves together the story of Joseph Howard, who is interred at Green-Wood, and his elaborate scheme to manipulate the gold market by spreading “fake news” in the press. Join her for a fascinating discussion with Green-Wood’s historian, Jeff Richman, about her research—and the many people interred at Green-Wood who played leading roles in this drama—as well as Abraham Lincoln, who is at the center of this tale.
For centuries, women were responsible for end-of-life care, usually in the home. This all changed when the commercial deathcare industry emerged in the mid-nineteenth century.
In 2020, we are once again experiencing a massive shift in the manner of funerary and memorialization practices. Death educator Bethany Tabor, along with artist Elizabeth Velazquez, will share more about these evolving practices, and, particularly, the work of marginalized populations, which are often overlooked in popular historical narratives. Velazquez will discuss the roles of ritual and memorialization in her artistic practice before opening up a group discussion with attendees.
It’s back! One of Green-Wood’s most popular outdoor events returns with an afternoon exploring of some of the Cemetery’s most impressive nineteenth-century mausoleums, with exquisite stained glass and some curious surprises! Peek inside the elaborate gates of these stone structures to view stunning examples of Green-Wood’s distinctive architecture. At each location, docents will offer a glimpse into the lives of those who now rest in these opulent edifices.
Are science and magic at odds? At first glance, they appear to be on polar opposites on the spectrum of reality and our understanding of both. However, in the nineteenth century, these two practices were closely related in the frenzied drive toward technological progress. Discover the three Green-Wood residents who not only made waves with their scientific and psychic endeavors, but also illustrated the entanglement of science and magic: Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph and Morse code; Washington Irving Bishop, famed mentalist; and Eunice Newton Foote, climate scientist.
Guastavino tiles, the invention of Spanish emigree Rafael Guastavino, revolutionized building at the turn of the twentieth century, making possible many of New York City’s most iconic sites: Grand Central Terminal, Ellis Island, Carnegie Hall, and St. John the Divine, to name a few. And now we can add Green-Wood to that list! Our Cemetery historian, Jeff Richman, has recently discovered the use of these famed tiles in the hidden dome of the Historic Chapel. Join Jeff and John Oshsendorf, a MacArthur Fellowship “genius grantee,” professor of structural engineering at MIT, and the world’s expert on Guastavino tiles, for a discussion of this great discovery—which places Green-Wood at the center of the story of the Guastavino Company and its work with the leading architects of a century ago.
Death is the great equalizer, right? Why then have funerary and burial practices been racially segregated in the United States for centuries? Why does death care continue to be one of the most segregated sectors of the American economy? This discussion uses these questions as a starting point to trace the evolution of African American funeral practices through key moments in history and continuing shifts. We will also discuss the current state of affairs and what it might suggest about the changing landscape of America's death culture more broadly. In Part I we will focus primarily on the history of African American death practices.
Green-Wood has over 7,500 trees, and the old oak trees in particular have some fascinating fungi growing within and around them—mycorrhizal fungi. They have a special, symbiotic relationship with trees. Mycorrhizae make nutrients and water from the soil more available to the tree and, in exchange, the tree supplies the fungi with food that it produced from photosynthesis. Ethan Crenson and Sigrid Jakob, senior members of the New York Mycological Society and frequent visitors to Green-Wood, will use the Cemetery’s rich fungal diversity to teach the basics of identifying fungi. They’ll discuss how mycorrhizal fungi help trees remain healthy and connect them to other trees, essentially networking them into a “wood-wide web.”
Red roses are the go-to for expressing love–but have you ever wondered what message you’re sending with other flowers? In this History Happy Hour, we’ll deepdive into the secret language of flowers, particularly the floral symbolism found at Green-Wood, and oftentimes, outside of the Cemetery. The focus on this common Victorian era practice will open your eyes to society’s influence on this bygone tradition.