Digital Commonwealth

James Tibensky Collection, 1973-1974

University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries Special Collections and University Archives

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After working for a year on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program, James Tibensky returned to college, declared a major in anthropology, and soon began to focus on gravestones. For his masters degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Tibensky took up an ambitious project, systematically documenting every pre-1800 grave marker in western Connecticut, photographing each stone, and noting the name, date of death, orientation, style, and material. Painstakingly entering and analyzing the data on the computer using Hollerith cards, he completed his thesis, "The colonial gravestones of western Connecticut," in 1977. During the latter stages of his research, he became a charter member of the new Association for Gravestone Studies. The Tibensky collection contains the complete product of James Tibensky's remarkably thorough study of western Connecticut colonial-era gravestones, including approximately 350 rolls of negative film with the accompanying original field nates, printounts, and statistical data, all meticulously maintained.

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