Collection 2013-032 - Sally Ross Acadian Cemeteries Research Collection

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Sally Ross Acadian Cemeteries Research Collection

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Physical description area

Physical description

2103 photographs: 1967 negatives, 63 positive prints, 62 contact sheets, b&w & col.; 26 x 20 cm or smaller.
1 volume + 17 leaves of textual records.
1 map: printed, col.; 69 x 101 cm, folded to 22 x 12 cm.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Sally Ross is a writer, French translator and researcher specializing in the history and culture of the Acadians of Nova Scotia. She was born in Halifax in 1941 to Dr. Edwin F. and Phyllis Ross. She holds a B.Sc. (1962) and M.A. (1967) from Dalhousie University and a Licence ès Lettres (1966) and Doctorat de 3e cycle (1970) from the Université de Tours in France. She taught the history and culture of French Canada in the French Department at the University of Western Ontario (1970-1974) and Dalhousie University (1975-1983). For over 10 years, she worked in various capacities for the non-profit Société Promotion Grand-Pré (at the National Historic Site) and from 2009 to 2012 was their media relations person. She co-authored with Alphonse Deveau the prize-winning book The Acadians of Nova Scotia (1992), and her book Les écoles acadiennes en Nouvelle-Écosse, 1758-2000, was published by Université de Moncton in 2001. In 2003 she received funding from the Nova Scotia Museum to conduct a field survey of the Acadian cemeteries in Nova Scotia in order to select, document and photograph grave markers of particular cultural and historical significance. Articles based on this research were published in Markers XXII: Annual Journal of the Association for Gravestone Studies 2005, Port Acadie 2007 (Université Sainte-Anne), the Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society and on the bilingual website Encyclopedia of the French Cultural Heritage of North America / Encyclopédie du Patrimoine Culturel de l'Amérique Française. She is a member of the Commission de l’Odyssée acadienne, devoted to the commemoration of the Deportation. As of 2013, Dr. Ross is semi-retired and lives in rural Nova Scotia.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Collection was created during 8 field trips and consists of black and white photographic negatives and contact sheets of 60 post-Deportation (after 1764) Acadian cemeteries, supplemented with colour prints of the oldest surviving cemetery at St. Pierre Catholic Church in Chéticamp on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, and a typed inventory describing each negative. This is not a comprehensive collection of all Acadian grave markers. Rather, the photographs represent a sampling of grave stones and monuments dating from 1817 (earliest found) to 2002, selected by Dr. Ross for their physical characteristics, French language inscriptions and historical significance. Examples in wood, stone, concrete and metal are depicted, as well as representative family names and at least one World War I or World War II veterans’ grave marker from each parish community. The layout and geographical site of each cemetery is also captured. Dr. Ross organized the photographs by community and within each community, by church cemetery. She also created a written inventory describing each photograph including the French inscription with English translations, a provincial map showing cemetery locations and a final report to the funder outlining her cultural analysis. The photographs were taken by Deborah Trask. This Collection shows the influence of French culture, and in particular the longevity of the French language, in Nova Scotia’s Acadian-founded communities through an examination of cemeteries as cultural artifacts over time.

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Immediate source of acquisition

Donated to Nova Scotia Archives by Dr. Sally Ross in June 2013.


Numbering system for negatives, created by Dr. Ross, refers to film roll number (or letter) and sequential image number in that roll. Colour prints have additional cemetery row numbers in brackets.

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  • French

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English translation provided.

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Records under copyright. Copyright held by Nova Scotia Archives.

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General note

Volume 17 of the Journal of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society (2014) contains Ross' 15 page article which brings together the findings of her study of Acadian grave markers.

Physical description

Collection contains 1,901 b&w and 66 col. negatives in strips, 63 col. positive prints and 62 b&w contact sheets.

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Women of Nova Scotia

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