Subject Headings for Gravestones, Tombs, Cemeteries and Material Culture Related to Funerary Customs

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee

Question/Answer on cataloging issues – September 2014
By Wayne Sanders, University of Missouri

Question: What Library of Congress Subject Headings are used to find and catalog resources on gravestones, tombs, cemeteries and material culture related to funerary customs?


The LCSH subject Sepulchral monuments is used for works on funerary monuments and gravestones. The subject may be geographically subdivided as may the following narrower terms:

  • Islamic sepulchral monuments
  • Jewish sepulchral monuments
  • Sepulchral monuments, Gothic
  • Sepulchral monuments, Medieval.
  • Sepulchral monuments, Renaissance.
  • Sepulchral monuments, Romanesque
  • Sepulchral monuments, Victorian.

Some additional related terms of interest which may be geographically subdivided are:

  • Artists’ monuments (Subdivision $x Monument is used under individual artists)
  • Graveposts
  • Sepulchral slabs
  • Soldiers’ monuments (Subdivision $x Monument is used under individual soldiers)

Works on tombs and mausoleums, mainly from the archaeological standpoint, are entered under Tombs. Tombs is also an LCSH term which can be geographically subdivided.

Example: Tombs $z Egypt $z Jīzah.

The subdivision $x Tombs is used under classes of persons, names of individual families, royal houses, dynasties, etc. The subdivision $x Tomb is used instead under names of individual persons.


Presidents $x Tombs
Lincoln, Abraham, $d 1809-1865 $x Tomb.

General works on cemeteries and burying-grounds are entered under Cemeteries. This term may also be geographically subdivided by place.

Selected narrower terms which may also be geographically subdivided are:

  • African American cemeteries
  • Animal cemeteries
  • Catacombs
  • Christian cemeteries
  • Islamic cemeteries
  • Jewish cemeteries
  • Slave cemeteries

Some additional related terms of interest which may also be geographically subdivided are:

  • Mausoleums
  • Crypts
  • Pyramids

Cemetery names are also established individually. These are established as corporate names so they do not show up in LCSH. For example:

  • Alexandria National Cemetery (Alexandria, Va.)
  • Père-Lachaise (Cemetery : Paris, France)

Works on articles that are placed in the grave with a body at the time of burial are entered under Grave goods [may geographically subdivide]

Some examples which can be geographically subdivided unless otherwise indicated are:

  • Brasses
  • Burial clothing
  • Canopic jars
  • Coffins
  • Funerary cones
  • Lanterns of the dead [may not be geographically subdivided]
  • Mouthpieces (Grave goods)
  • Sarcophagi
  • Urns
  • Ushabti

Lastly, here are some miscellaneous subjects that may also be of interest:

  • Sepulchral monuments in art
  • Sepulchral monuments in literature
  • Sepulchral monuments $x Law and legislation [may be geographically subdivided]
  • Sepulchral monuments $x Themes, motives
  • Epitaphs [may be geographically subdivided]