June 30, 2021

Gravestone Girls: Cemetery Art and History Devotees

Gravestone Girls: Cemetery Art and History Devotees

“Keeping our dead alive” is the passion of the devoted Gravestone Girls (GG). In this episode, we meet Brenda Sullivan, the founder of this New England-based crew.  Brenda, Maggie, and Melissa make history relevant through cemetery...


“Keeping our dead alive” is the passion of the devoted Gravestone Girls (GG). In this episode, we meet Brenda Sullivan, the founder of this New England-based crew.  Brenda, Maggie, and Melissa make history relevant through cemetery lectures and tours, genealogy work, and castings of beautiful gravestones.  

It’s no surprise that Brenda grew up in a family skilled in antiques, restoration, art, and history. Young Brenda learned how to do gravestone rubbings and to respect cemeteries as repositories of history. An interest in 3D work sparkled her to move from rubbings to castings. Her business of creating castings grew over time as more and more people requested them. Brenda loves to joke that “nothing says Happy Birthday or Merry Christmas like a gravestone.” All of their castings come with an informative history card. 

The best thing about being a GG is finding new images to cast.  The GG get permission from the cemetery before making non-invasive castings. The Girls can be found jumping around like “ninnies” when they make a new rare find.  

This team specializes in Colonial gravestones. Gravestones from this era are made from sandstone or slate in a shape that resembles a headboard. They are decorated with images of death and morality, with symbols such as winged hourglasses, imps, coffins, and skulls. These symbols remind us to take care of our immortal souls. As long as these stones stand, they continue to communicate about the persons that rest under them.  

Brenda’s cemetery love is seen in all aspects of her life. She once owned a hearse and rented out rides. She collects cemetery and funeral antiques. Her tattoos are gravestone symbols.   

Brenda has never regretted visiting a cemetery. There’s something to enjoy at all of them. There are as many cemeteries to be explored as there are grains of sand.  

You can find Brenda and team at https://www.gravestonegirls.com 

Brenda Sullivan (of the Gravestone Girls)

Creators of decorative artwork using the beautiful images carved on olde New England gravestones; cemetery tour guides, and teachers of gravestone rubbing classes.