Woodlawn Cemetery Records

This archive documents the history of the grounds, mausolea, monuments, and operations of Woodlawn Cemetery, founded in 1863 in The Bronx, New York, and one of the largest in the United States. Comprising approximately 800 linear feet of diverse record and media types, the Archive is the largest collection accessioned by the Department of Drawings & Archives to date. This vast body of materials includes architectural designs, maps, photographs, correspondence, construction and maintenance records, and other historical documents, spanning 140 years of the cemetery’s operations.

Lot owners at Woodlawn have always been required to provide designs for memorials in advance so the cemetery could assess appropriateness and maintenance feasibility. These designs, records, and other materials were kept in the cemetery's downtown office until it was closed in 1982; for more than twenty years thereafter, the records were kept in boxes and file cabinets located in various storage areas on the cemetery grounds.

Woodlawn granted Columbia University full ownership of the Archive in 2006 and transfer of all materials to Avery Library is underway. However, because of the volume of documents, it will take approximately five years for the collection to be completely processed and cataloged by the Department of Drawings & Archives. Materials are made available to researchers as they are processed by the department; please contact us for more information. Detailed inventories from the first two series--the Engineers Files and the Major Monuments Records--are now available in electronic form.


Of particular interest is the rich documentation on mausoleums and memorials designed by numerous prominent American architects, landscape architects, artists, and designers, including Herbert Adams; Robert Aitken; Alexander Archipenko; Charles I. Berg; Carrère & Hastings; Sally Farnham; Beatrix Farrand; Daniel Chester French; C. P. H. Gilbert; Richard Morris Hunt; Hunt & Hunt; Anna Hyatt Huntington; Edwin Lutyens; McKim, Mead, & White; the Olmsted Brothers; Peabody & Stern; the Piccirilli brothers; Charles A. Platt; John Russell Pope; James Renwick; James Gamble Rogers; Ellen Biddle Shipman; Tiffany Studios; Trowbridge & Livingston; Gilbert Stanley Underwood; Warren & Wetmore; Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney; and York & Saywer.


Additionally, the collection also includes documents related to memorials for many of the prominent figures in jazz, theater, literature, business, and politics who are buried on the cemetery’s 400 acres. These include Herman Armour; the Belmont family; Nellie Bly; Vernon and Irene Castle; George M. Cohan; Celia Cruz; Miles Davis; Charles Delmonico; Duke Ellington; Jay Gould; W. C. Handy; Coleman Hawkins; Victor Herbert; Milt Jackson; the Juilliard family; King Oliver; Samuel Kress; Fritz Kreisler; Fiorello LaGuardia; R. H. Macy; Herman Melville; Robert Moses; J. C. Penney; Joseph Pulitzer; Elizabeth Cady Stanton; the Straus family; Madame C. J. Walker; Bert Williams; the Whitney family; and the Woolworth family.

Raymond Hood, designer. Mori Memorial, Woodlawn Cemetery, circa 1927. Raymond Hood, designer. Mori Memorial, Woodlawn Cemetery, circa 1927.
Woodlawn Cemetery, aerial view detail, circa 1920s. Woodlawn Cemetery, aerial view detail, circa 1920s.