Jewish Heritage Europe

Best practices – posts & web resources on preservation/conservation/restoration

Gravestone Preservation web site

Extensive information about how to preserve, conserve and/or restore gravestones. The material is centered on (mainstream) historic cemeteries in the United States, but much of the how-to and technical information is valid for work in Jewish cemeteries in Europe. There are illustrations, step-by-step guides, an FAQ, a glossary of terms, links and other material.

Tips for Preserving and Restoring Historic Cemeteries

Our JHE post from December 27, 2015

Slide Show: Tips for Preserving Historic Cemeteries and Burial Grounds from Saving Places


How to Clean an Old Headstone

Step-by-step article by Keely Deutsche on the “dengarden” web site

How to Reset a Gravestone

A step-by-step illustrated guide to the process, by Ta Mara Conde, a gravestone conservator and member of the Association for Gravestone Studies. The stones illustrated are in historic cemeteries in the United States, but the process can be used on Jewish gravestones in Europe.

Association for Gravestone Studies FAQs

These FAQs include discussions of why you should NOT use shaving cream or flour to highlight epitaphs in order to read them. Instead, To safely read a worn inscription, AGS recommends the following methods:

  • Use a large mirror to direct bright sunlight diagonally across the face of the gravestone to cast shadows in indentations and make inscriptions more visible. In wooded areas, use a flashlight to achieve similar results.
  • Take a digital photo, upload onto a computer, edit the picture, and choose invert colors. This will make the image look like an old 35mm negative and bring out the lettering. To keep a copy of the original and edited photograph, select “save as” when saving the edited photograph.
  • Treat a wet gravestone with D/2 Biological Solution, scrub into a lather using a plastic bristle brush, and smooth the lather into the inscription to make the letters more readable. Afterward, rinse the stone thoroughly.