Association of American Cemetery Superintendents

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The Association of American Cemetery Superintendents or AACS was an American organization formed in 1887 to share interests and to improve the fields of cemetery design, groundskeeping, and horticulture.

The first movement to create an association for cemetery superintendents was started in 1886 by eighteen individuals,[1] and the organization first met in October 1887 in Cincinnati, Ohio under the leadership of Charles Nichols. The foremost purpose of the AACS was educational, and the published works from each annual meeting became much sought-after by librarians and other institutions of learning. These published works were written by cemetery superintendents, illustrating points of importance they would like share with their fellow cemetery superintendents. The Association was devoted to the betterment of cemeteries and their maintenance.

The Association was successful in improving the state of cemeteries across the United States, and in encouraging cemetery superintendents to keep their graveyards well-maintained. One example of the Association’s effect on society would be its improvement of cemeteries in rural America. One of the AACS’s concerns was that of the upkeep of rural cemeteries, and how to improve and gather interest in them. In an instance mentioned in the 20th Annual Convention Proceedings, a member of the AACS described how he motivated a group of cemetery superintendents. This group of cemetery superintendents was composed entirely of women, and they were in charge of an extremely old country church's cemetery.[2] With the encouragement to improve their graveyard, the committee was motivated and driven to better their cemetery’s appearance and upkeep, resulting in a much more pleasant cemetery. This instance illustrates how the AACS was able to affect whole communities of cemetery superintendents, for this is but one example of the many concerns the AACS had for American cemeteries.

One of the three oldest societies devoted to conserving landscape and cemetery gardening,[3] and rural art in the United States, the Association of American Cemetery Superintendents still exists today. In 1996, the AACS took a new name, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. [1]