Category: People Essay

Book List: Escape with a Book

May 5, 2020

During this time of the Covid-19 pandemic we are all staying home and close to home.  So why not travel across the globe and through time and take an adventure through reading?  We recommend these 10 books, written by or about individuals buried at Mount Auburn, to help you escape from Cape Cod to Paris and over mountains and oceans!  These books can be found at your local library or Independent Bookstore such as Porter Square BooksHarvard Book Store, and Belmont Books.

Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In this epic poem, Evangaline: A Tale of Acadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1847), follow a woman in her search of her lost love whom she was separated from during the Expulsion of the Acadians.  Travel through the “forest primeval…”  Longfellow (1807 – 1882) is buried on Indian Ridge Path.

The Natural by Bernard Malamud (1952)

If you’re missing baseball, read The Natural by Bernard Malamud.  Malamud’s first novel, The Natural remains in the eyes of many to be the finest novel ever written about baseball.   Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bernard Malamud (1914 – 1986) is buried at Mount Auburn on Azalea Path.

Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy (1888)

Travel backwards and forwards in time in this classic novel, Looking Backward 2000-1887 by Edward Bellamy.  In it a 19th century Bostonian wakes up in the year 2000.  Boston has changed immensely into a socialist utopia.  A brief mention of Mount Auburn on Decoration Day (the precursor to Memorial Day) is our connection to this influential book.

Two Years Before the Mast: A Sailor’s Life at Sea by Richard Henry Dana, Jr. (1840)

Richard Henry Dana, Jr. wrote this account about his experiences on a two-year sea voyage at the age of 19. Two Years Before the Mast: A Sailor’s Life at Sea is a riveting account of traveling around Cape Horn to the California coast. Although Dana Jr. (1815 – 1882) is buried in Rome, there is a memorial to him at Mount Auburn in his family’s lot on Jonquil Path.

Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery, the U.S. Exploring Expedition 1838 – 1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick (2003)

Take a voyage with Sea of Glory: America’s Voyage of Discovery, the U. S. Exploring Expedition 1838-1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick. The U. S. Exploring Expedition is credited with the discovery Antarctica, the mapping of hundreds of Pacific islands, the Oregon and Washington coasts, and 100 miles of the Columbia River. The Expedition met with tragedy in Fiji, where members were killed during a bloody war with natives. A monument was erected at Mount Auburn on Hyacinth Path to honor those men.

The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life by Francis Parkman (1849)

Travel with Francis Parkman in his book The Oregon Trail: Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life.  Valued as both literature and history, Parkman’s account of touring the West provides us with rich descriptions of the landscape and hunting buffalo with Native Americans. Parkman (1823 – 1893) is buried on Indian Ridge Path.

Escape from Lucania: An Epic Story of Survival by David Roberts (2012)

Escape from Lucania: An Epic Story of Survival by David Roberts is a gripping tale of two talented mountaineers and Harvard classmates, Bob Bates and Brad Washburn and their expedition in the Yukon Territory through unbelievable conditions and obstacles.  Escape from Lucania recounts Washburn and Bates’s determined drive toward Lucania’s 17,150-foot summit under constant threat of avalanches, blinding snowstorms, and hidden crevasses. Against awesome odds they became the first to set foot on Lucania’s peak, not realizing that their greatest challenge still lay beyond.  Bates (1911 – 2007) is interred on Amethyst Path and Washburn (1910 – 2007) on Oak Ave.

The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough (2011)

Take a trip to Paris in the years between 1830 and 1900 with The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough.  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Charles Sumner, Winslow Homer, and Margaret Fuller are just some of the Mount Auburn notable residents who appear in this book about Americans who spent time in France to achieve their creative goals. As David McCullough writes, “Not all pioneers went west.”

House on Nauset Marsh: A Cape Cod Memoir by Wyman Richardson (1947)

Take an arm-chair journey to Cape Cod through Wyman Richardson’s House on Nauset Marsh: A Cape Cod Memoir.  A classic of Cape Cod literature and a great piece of nature writing, The House on Nauset Marsh is a lyrical, poignant and often humorous work of a much-loved land and the people who called it home in a simpler time.  Wyman Richardson (1896 – 1953) was a physician, medical school professor, naturalist and is buried at Mount Auburn on Wisteria Path.

Poolside with Slim Aarons (2007)

Poolside with Slim Aarons offers images of jet-setters and the wealthy, of beautiful, glittering people living the glamorous life. Escape with this collection of stunning photographs of the rich and well-connected “doing attractive things.”  From the Caribbean to Italy and Mexico to Monaco, Poolside with Slim Aarons whisks the reader away to an exclusive club where taste, style, luxury, and grandeur prevail.  George A. “Slim” Aarons (1916-2006) is regarded as one of the most influential magazine photographers of his generation and is buried on Magnolia Ave.

Book List: Recommendations for Children’s Books for Young Friends of Mount Auburn

April 11, 2020

For readers young and old, here are 10 books for children that are by or about Mount Auburn Residents or take place in the Cemetery!  These books can be found at your local library or Independent Bookstore such as Porter Square Books, Harvard Book Store, and Belmont Books.

Picture Books

Fannie in the Kitchen by Deborah Hopkinson (2004)

Marcia enjoys being her mother’s helper, so she’s hurt when Mother hires Fannie Farmer to prepare family’s meals. But sure enough Fannie’s charm (and griddle cakes!) win Marcia over, and she finds herself cooking up delights she never thought possible!  Fannie Merritt Farmer (1857 – 1915) is buried on Central Ave.

Dumpling Dreams: How Joyce Chen Brought the Dumpling from Beijing to Cambridge by Carrie Clickard (2017)

A rhyming picture book biography of Chinese chef Joyce Chen (1917 – 1994) who eventually opened several popular restaurants in the States and had her own cooking show. Chen is buried on Azalea Path.

She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on her Head!  By Kathryn Lasky (1995)

A fictional account of Harriet Hemenway and her cousin Minna Hall, founders of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and how the latest in 1896 Boston fashion led the two women to form a club to protect birds.  Hemenway (1858 – 1960) is buried on Thistle Path.

Five Little Monkeys by Juliet Kepes (1953)

The book is about five little monkeys named Buzzo, Bibi, Binki, Bulu and Bali that are wild and have a bad reputation among the rest of the animals.  It received a 1953 Caldecott Honor. Kepes (1919 – 1999) is buried on Oxalis Path.

Poems for Children

Every Time I Climb a Tree by David McCord (1967)

A delightful collection of twenty-five poems with short lines on such varied subjects as a lost turtle, a fence, the wind, jam, a witch, and bananas and cream. McCord (1897 – 1997) is buried on Chestnut Ave.

You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You by John Ciardi (1962)

Thirty-five imaginative and humorous poems for an adult and a child to read aloud together, including hilarious poems about a mother who sleeps late, frightful children, a cat named Mrs. Lick-a-Chin, and others.  Illustrated by Edward Gorey.  Ciardi (1916 – 1986) is inurned in the Story Chapel Columbarium.

Chapter Books for Young Readers

Carry on Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (1995)

This classic fictionalized biography for Young Adults tells the story of Nathaniel Bowditch’s important contribution to marine navigation.  Bowditch (1773 – 1838) is now buried in Mount Auburn on Tulip Path, and a statue of the great navigator can be found at the intersection of Chapel and Central Avenues, paid for by sailors who benefited from his revolutionary guide to sailing the seas.

Hatching Magic by Ann Downer (2004)

In this fantasy book, Wyvern the dragon is looking for a place to lay her egg and steps into a bolt-hole that transports her from 13th century England to 21st century Boston, where she makes her nest at Mount Auburn!

Pollyanna by Eleanor Hodgman Porter (1913)

Adult and young readers enjoy the classic children’s novel Pollyanna, the story of a young orphan whose eternal optimism effects all of those around her.  Author Eleanor Hodgman Porter (1868 – 1920) is buried on Cuphea Path.

Lanie by Jane Kurtz

Mount Auburn is well beloved in the birding community for its significance as a Masschusetts Important Bird Area.  In 2010, author Jane Kurtz drew upon this aspect of Mount Auburn’s story for Lanie, a book in the popular “American Girl” series written for young readers.

On the Ambiguity of History (and Murder)

February 11, 2020

By Robin Hazard Ray, Volunteer Docent and Historian

Every historian, professional or otherwise, faces a moment when the archives are having a laugh at his or her expense. One document swears that X is the case; another shows that X is impossible. The researcher is left holding the two papers in opposite hands, cursing the perfidy of the universe.

In pursuing research for our upcoming Friends of Mount Auburn program, Cause of Death: Murder” (March 15, 1 p.m.), we confronted such a moment.


Family Digitization Project

June 1, 2019

Are you interested in digitizing materials that help to tell the stories of those now buried at Mount Auburn? Sign up for a free “First Friday” digitization consultation through our online events calendar. 

Explore more of the stories of those buried at Mount Auburn on our website or in our free mobile app.