burial of infants, babies, and children #general
Infants, babies, and small children were buried to the side or the back of a
cemetery plot for several practical reasons that are related, all having to do with
size. The religious reason that was cited was more superstition than religious law.
There are certainly instances of children buried among adults.
1. Burying infants or small children throughout a cemetery plot results in
inefficient use of the space with fewer people getting buried. Alternatively, if
the graves are used with maximum "efficiency", they cannot be marked with straight
or neat rows of monuments.
2. For people who paid for individual graves, a small grave for a child cost less
than a standard grave for an adult - unless the child's grave took the space of an
3. Children may die during the entire time that the plot is in use - or hopefully
not at all - so to use the space wisely it made sense to bury them in a separate
section, but not in the interior of the plot.
New York, N.Y.
What Mr. Leviton said naturally makes sense. Unfortunate part though is that the
cheaper, smaller headstones, often of young children who descendents may be far less
aware of if at all, seem to lead to children's sections that I've seen falling into
disrepair, particularly once a burial society becomes inactive. Definitely observed
that at Mt.Zion. Such a shame.
A. E. Jordan
when visiting old cemetery plots, in addition to looking in the remainder of the
plot for other relatives, to look in the children's section for cousins and
great-great aunts and uncles who may have died as children, and then also check
with the cemetery office for children who may have been buried without a marker.
I would also add in when visiting old plots remember that not all of them were
always done as "family sections" versus individual graves. Where my great
grandparents were buried the synagogue plot obviously originally started with a
section for women, a separate section of men and of course a third place for
children. So the earliest graves are very much in date order and then later they
let the husbands and wives be buried side by side. The change came somewhere
between 1900 when a great aunt was buried and 1920 when my great grandparents were
Also when looking at the really old plots that buried in date order remember that
the graves are done right to left (at least in the ones I saw at Washington in
Jim Gutterman's comments about deteriorating children's sections in cemetery plots
are very true. This is due several reasons, including sunken monuments, cheaper
monuments made of sandstone or other stone that wears away within decades, and
nobody to take care of the graves after the parents and perhaps the siblings died
because there were no direct descendants (perpetual care was for children seems to
be unusual). Additionally, there was sometimes no marker at all.
It is indeed a shame, and also should be a reminder that when visiting old cemetery
plots, in addition to looking in the remainder of the plot for other relatives, to
look in the children's section for cousins and great-great aunts and uncles who may
have died as children, and then also check with the cemetery office for children
who may have been buried without a marker.
New York, N.Y.