A view over Vicksburg National Cemetery shows differences between recently cleaned headstones (in foreground) and those that will soon be cleaned (in background).

The National Park Service is defining new best practices for the care of the national cemeteries it manages.  NCPTT serves as a technical adviser for the project.  On Nov. 16-17, Vicksburg National Military Park Superintendent Mike Madell hosted participants of the National Cemetery Task Force in discussions of the new reference manual (which serves as a companion to the recently issued NPS Director’s Order #61 on national cemetery operations).  The task force focused on issues ranging from development of operation standards and cemetery plans to display of flags in national cemeteries.

NCPTT contributed best practices for headstone cleaning to the manual.  Taking into consideration the Secretary of Interior’s standards for preservation and the American Institute for Conservation’s code of ethics, NCPTT emphasized using the gentlest, least invasive methods possible for cleaning headstones.  Headstones should be cleaned only when absolutely necessary, to minimize changes to the original stone.  Procedures outlined in the manual included how to
Terry Winschel, VNMP historian, provides a lively overview of the siege of Vicksburg at the park.

do cleaning test patches as well as describing a variety of acceptable cleaning methods.

As part of the discussion, the task force was treated to a tour of Vicksburg National Military Park and Vicksburg National Cemetery led by park historian, Terry Winschel. He offered lively and informative descriptions of military actions taken at the siege of Vicksburg, including the Union assault of the Third Louisiana Redan where tunneling was used to place a mine under the confederate troops.  The tour included a stop at the national cemetery and the U.S.S. Cairo museum.

The National Cemetery Task Force continues to develop sound service-wide policy with this reference manual which should be forthcoming in 2011.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119