The Rural Cemetery
Cemeteries like Oaklawn exemplify the mid-nineteenth century movement to "domesticate" death. The severe and invariably religious views on death and the afterlife that were held in the country's colonial period softened by the early nineteenth century to views that stressed heavenly bliss, familial reunion in Heaven and the feelings of the bereaved. Cemeteries, traditionally either family plots or crowded church graveyards, gave way to carefully designed public burying grounds where landscaping, paved pathways, statuary, and grave markers all supported the image of the afterlife as a restful garden. Oaklawn is an early example of this trend, called the "rural cemetery."