Excerpt from review by Richard Veit
in The New England Quarterly, (June 2016) 89:2; 345-348.
“James Blachowicz’s From Slate to Marble is a monumental contribution to the literature on early American grave markers. The book is beautifully produced, well written, and contains some of the most exquisite photographs of gravestones ever published. It is a must-have volume for anyone interested in New England’s early grave markers and will be the go-to reference for scholars interested in this topic. . . .
From Slate to Marble builds upon but does not duplicate Blachowicz’s similarly named earlier volume. . . . Readers are encouraged to use the two volumes as a set. . . . [V]olume II is more comprehensive.
Like a careful detective, Blachowicz uses the clues left behind by carvers, in primary documents and in the stones themselves, to trace the lives and careers of some of early New England’s pre-eminent artisans. Indeed he provides readers with a recipe for tracking these elusive artisans, using probate records, advertisements, legal records, genealogical sources and the like. . . . His forte is analyzing lettering, and he is particularly effective at using epigraphy to identify carvers and their work. . . . Like an entomologist, the author lays out detailed taxonomies of gravestones. His is the foundational sort of research necessary to the growth of all fields of scholarly endeavor. . . .
Blachowicz builds upon that of earlier cataloguers of gravestones, including Harriet Forbes, Ralph Tucker, Peter Benes, Theodore Chase, Daniel Farber, and Laurel Gabel. Standing on the shoulders of these giants, Blachowicz has reached far indeed and provided us with a detailed glimpse of New England gravestone carving during one of its most interesting periods. The volume is both scholarly and beautiful; indeed, it would look good on a coffee table. This is not a lightweight book, but a meticulously researched labor of love.”