Farber Gravestone Collection (American Antiquarian Society)
The Farber Gravestone Collection is one of the most highly prized photographic archives of the AAS. It contains more than 13,500 images of the sculpture from more than 9,000 early American grave markers, mostly made prior to 1800. The archive is especially rich for central and southern New England, with selective coverage of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. The collection further includes selected images of gravestones from the Middle Atlantic and southeastern United States, the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and Great Britain.
These early gravestone sculptures are a significant expression of artistic creation — the earliest coherent body of American sculpture. Further, the associated data provides a wealth of information, such as name, date(s) of the deceased, stone location, and descriptions of the stone type, iconography, the inscription, and (when known) the carver. The photographs provide detail that enables the identification of individual “hands” (carvers) even when a given sculptor is anonymous.
The late Daniel Farber of Worcester, Massachusetts, and his wife, Jessie Lie Farber, pioneers in the field of American gravestone studies, were responsible for photographing and amassing the largest portion of the collection.