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Cemetery/cemetery "babylands"

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Question
I'm interested in learning the history behind "babylands" at cemeteries. They are sections of many graveyards that are set aside for the graves of infants. Most live less than a year, although some live a few years -- up to 5. We have several of these areas in cemeteries in the Omaha metro area, and most appear to have started in the mid- to late-50s. I'm wondering if it became a "fad" at that time, or what is behind them? Do you know anyone I could call and ask? (I'm a newspaper reporter in Omaha and I'm working on a story about these places._

Thanks.

Answer
Hi Betsy,

What an interesting question (and please post the link here once you finish your story!).

I don't know the history of "Babylands" in the US. What I DO know is that in one of my cemeteries the "Babyland" section was established in 1971 - that's when the oldest baby burials in this section are. (Our oldest burials are from the early 1850's and there are infant burials in other parts of the cemetery but Babyland dates to 1971.)  

I was told the Babyland spaces were free and that was considered a way for the cemetery to 1) support people in the community facing an uncommon and traumatic experience and 2) connect with families who might then want other family members to be buried there in the future - so, a little marketing and a little community service.

Following your lead, I did some internet research and show that some cemeteries have Babylands as far back as 1880, so I doubt it was a "fad" per se; it seems to be a really practical way to address the special needs of infants who need to be buried. They don't have big caskets; they don't require lots of room; they usually don't have large funerals or large gatherings - so they can be in parts of the cemetery that are better suited for this.

I was in a cemetery in Nevada recently, near an Air Force Base. I photographed the Babyland there because of how many babies were buried there - it seemed like 5-10% of the cemetery's occupied space was Babyland. Each of the graves had a faded wooden flower on a dowel stem; most of them were from the 50's. The cemetery also had a large memorial that consisted of a number of missiles standing upright around an American flag, and I had to wonder if I was looking at the graves of fallout babies.

There's space to post follow-ups below so feel free to tell us what you learn.

Hope that helped some!

in trees,

Cynthia

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Cynthia Beal

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Typical questions include 1) Where can I go for a natural burial? 2) What types of coffins, urns and other "packaging" are best for natural decomposition? 3)How do I plan for a natural funeral? 4) Do I have to be embalmed? and other questions in this vein. I'm available to answer general consumer questions about natural burial, home and natural funerals, and sustainable cemetery management. I answer questions about general cemetery matters, and offer suggestions about how to deal with remains, cremated or buried, interment rights, rules for cemeteries and plot owners, covering conventional as well as alternative options. I also answer questions from professionals, home funeral guides, and family members about how to manage a natural funeral either in the mortuary or at the home, how to best use natural coffins and urns, and how to convert cemeteries to natural, sustainable practices. I will answer questions from volunteer cemetery managers about how to offer natural burial in their rural, Pioneer, or non-profit cemeteries. If I don't know an answer I'll refer the questioner to someone who does. DISCLAIMER -- I am a certified pre-need sales person in the State of Oregon. I am not a licensed attorney, tax adviser, estate planner, funeral director, embalmer, accountant, public official, or any other professional that may be associated with issues the question brings up and any answers I provide should not be relied upon if such expertise is required by the asker (as per the All Expert suggestion). I provide my own personal opinions, based on my experience in business, Nature and its systems, and with human beings after 55 years of life on the planet.

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Natural burial and sustainable cemetery management experience: I'm the founder of the Natural Burial Company and a member of the Sustainable Cemetery Management Group. Over 25 years in the natural products industry, and 9 years running the Natural Burial Company. I've done some consulting for existing and start-up natural cemetery operations. I'm currently an instructor at Oregon State University, facilitating the creation of a program in sustainable cemetery management and stimulating research in cemetery-oriented processes and functions.

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ICCFA - International Cemetery, Crematory and Funeral Association Green Business Network Funeral Consumers Alliance

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American Cemetery Magazine; Funeral Business Advisor; Real Goods Source Book; American Funeral Director Magazine, etc.

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There is no degree in natural burials or funerals, and no accredited education provided for sustainable cemetery management. We're developing a program at Oregon State University but it hasn't fully launched yet.

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