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Brief History of the CIS Cemetery

The Carlisle Indian School (CIS) cemetery began in January of 1880, four months after the opening of the school, when the remains of two recently deceased students were interred near an existing Army burial ground on the school campus. Between 1880 and 1918, at least 186 individuals were interred in this burial ground. These interments included Carlisle Indian School students, prisoners of war held captive at the school, and the child of an Indian School teacher. These graves were marked with a combination of wooden and stone grave-markers.

On September 1, 1918, the Carlisle Indian School was closed, and ownership of the land was formally transferred to the Department of War. At that time, the Carlisle Barracks campus became the site of an Army General Hospital, which later became the Army Medical Field Service School. In July of 1927, building projects on the campus prompted the Army to relocate the cemetery from its original location to its present site, along what is now known as Claremont Road. Original grave-markers, with the exception of the stone for Thomas Marshall, were replaced with standard-issue military headstones.

On January 21, 1935, the infant son of an officer stationed at the Carlisle Barracks became the first non-Native person buried in the cemetery. In 1947, headstones were again replaced with a new style of military marker. In 1951, the Carlisle Barracks became the site of the U.S. Army War College, which currently occupies the campus. Interments continued until August of 2005, when the widow of a former Army officer became the last person buried in the cemetery. Periodic replacements for certain headstones continue into the present day.

For more information, see the following sources:

Bell, Genevieve. “Telling Stories Out of School: Remembering the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879-1918.” Ph.D. diss., Stanford University, 1998. [See Afterword]

Fear-Segal, Jacqueline. White Man’s Club: Schools, Race, and the Struggle of Indian Acculturation. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2007. [See Chapter 9: "Indian School Cemetery: Telling Remains]

Fear-Segal, Jacqueline. "The History and Reclamation of a Sacred Space: The Indian School Cemetery." In Fear-Segal, Jacqueline and Susan D. Rose. Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Indigenous Histories, Memories, & Reclamations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016.

Joseph, J.W., Hugh Matternes, and Matthew Rector. Archival Research of the Carlisle Indian School Cemetery: U.S. Army Garrison, Carlisle Barracks, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. New South Associates Technical Report 2635, Contract W912P9-16-D-0015, Task Order 6. July 5, 2017. [Available here]

Landis, Barbara. "Death at Carlisle: Naming the Unknowns in the Cemetery." In Fear-Segal, Jacqueline and Susan D. Rose. Carlisle Indian Industrial School: Indigenous Histories, Memories, & Reclamations. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016.