Monumental mass marketing: how the Vermont Marble Company standardized memorials in early 20th century America
Historic Preservation and Conservation
At the turn of the 20th century, the Vermont Marble Company was the largest producer of marble goods in the United States and a critical force in the standardization and diffusion of gravestones across the country. The Vermont Marble Company utilized new modes of mass production, established a national distribution network, and embraced the use of catalogs to sell their products. This thesis examines a set of gravestone catalogs printed in 1916 and used by the Vermont Marble Company’s sales representatives in Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis, and San Francisco. The catalogs contain hundreds of images of gravestones sold by the company and capture a transitional moment of funerary traditions in the United States from elaborate 19th century mourning culture to modern standardized memorials. This thesis shows through statistical analysis of the catalogs that the Vermont Marble Company had a regionally distinctive approach to distribution of their gravestone designs, and it interprets the findings through a website and lesson plans that engage students with archival material, secondary sources, and historical artifacts.