Not Dead But Sleepeth: A Study of Gravestone Lettering

Doug Clouse
Co-Founder and Principal of The Graphics Office
Adjunct Professor at Purchase College and the Fashion Institute of Technology

Doug Clouse will speak about his research on lettering on nineteenth-century American gravestones and memorials. His work focusses on lettering in the Midwest, with particular attention paid to gravestones in and around Wichita, Kansas and the work of the marble company Kimmerle & Adams. The liveliness and variety of letterforms on memorials by Kimmerle & Adams and other Kansas firms reflect the ambition of pioneer settlers as well as the influence of print typography on inscriptional lettering. The ebullient mix of scripts, slab serifs, serifs, grotesques, and shadowed letters, the way lines of letters curve and angle, and the integration of letters with ornament recall the fancy print typography of the 1870s and 80s. Clouse will look closely at the letterforms and trace the materials, skills, technologies, and beliefs about death that coalesced to create this brief Midwestern flowering of lettering in marble.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.4: St. John’s University Manhattan Campus on Thursday, February 12, 2015.