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The Congressional Cemetery is now the world's largest outdoor encyclopedia of American history, with encyclopedia articles available with a quick scan by a smartphone of QR codes that are placed next to the Cemetery's stone monuments. These are the graves and cenotaphs of congressmen, senators, a Supreme Court justice, military heros, Native American chiefs, the movers and shakers of 19th century Washington, DC, a convicted traitor, and a well-known madame, Mary Ann Hall, who ran her brothel a few blocks from the Capitol.
When any of the QRpedia QR codes are scanned by a smartphone, the phone will display a Wikipedia article on the person buried or memorialized on the site, in the preferred language of the owner of the phone. Six QR codes were tested at the Cemetery including those next to the cenotaphs of President John Quincy Adams, and pre-Civil War congressional leaders Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, abolitionist Owen Lovejoy, and Tom Lantos, but the most popular scan was for the article on Vietnam veteran and gay activist Leonard Matlovich.
The Congressional Cemetery is located just over one mile southeast of the US Capitol, at 1801 E St., SE., Washington, DC (near the Potomac Metro station). It is a private cemetery, but has had close connections to Congress since its founding in 1807, and is a National Historic Landmark.
More than 300 people who have graves or cenotaphs at the cemetery have articles on the English-language Wikipedia. See List of burials and cenotaphs at the Congressional Cemetery for an incomplete list.
"Cenotaphs," as the word is used at the cemetery, include not just "empty graves" or memorials, but also graves of Congressmen who are buried under curious structures known as "Latrobe Cenotaphs" designed by the second Architect of the Capitol Benjamin Latrobe. Cenotaphs were erected for congressmen who died in office before 1876, accounting for 163 cenotaphs. Two were added in the 20th century. Many of the 80 congressmen who are buried in the Cemetery are interred without cenotaphs, but about 50 are interred below cenotaphs. Several were interred below a cenotaph and later reinterred in other cemeteries. Two congressmen, Hale Boggs and Nick Begich, who were lost together in an Alaskan plane crash, share one cenotaph. James Gillespie, a Revolutionary War soldier who died while representing North Carolina in Congress in 1805, was buried in another cemetery, and was later memorialized with a cenotaph. In 1893 he was reinterred in the Congressional Cemetery so now is memorialized by an individual gravestone, as well as the cenotaph. Only one person who did not serve in Congress is memorialized by a cenotaph, the first Architect of the Capitol, William Thornton.
QRpedia and QR code projects are not new to Wikipedia, but mostly they have been used inside museums. Derby Museum first used the codes in the UK to give their many foreign visitors information in multiple languages. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis made the first use of the codes in the US. Outdoor users have included the Sophia Zoo in Bulgaria. The Monmouthpedia project has placed over 1000 QR codes throughout the town of Monmouth, Wales, both indoors and out. The Congressional Cemetery project, however, is the first large outdoor use in the United States.
Lori Byrd Phillips, US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator for the Wikimedia Foundation, said "QRpedia provides access to deeper levels of information while you are standing right in front of a landmark, and has huge implications for multilingual accessibility to this information. There's really nothing else like it."
Sixty QRpedia QR codes are posted at the cemetery. A tour of the Cemetery for 25 Wikipedians from around the world was held during Wikimania!, Wikipedia's annual convention held this July in Washington, DC at 6 pm Tuesday, July 10. tour information
Rebecca Roberts, Program Director at Congressional Cemetery said “since its founding in 1807, Congressional Cemetery was always intended to be a place of recreation, learning, and imagination, not simply a burial ground for the dead. The QR codes project is the twenty-first century way to encourage a nineteenth century ideal of the cemetery as an appealing and interesting place to visit.”
Once Wikipedia's collection of articles on the Cemetery are put together in one place, it is easy to see that pre-Civil War Washington was a small town, with just one industry - government, and that most of the people memorialized here knew each other or had subtle connections.
For example when South Carolina Senator Andrew Butler was mocked by Senator Charles Sumner for his pro-slavery views, Butler's relative, Congressman Preston Brooks beat Sumner nearly to death on the floor of the Senate, while fellow South Carolina Congressman Laurence M. Keitt pulled a pistol to prevent anyone from defending Sumner. Sumner and Keitt didn't die while serving in office, so they are not memorialized by cenotaphs, but Butler and Brooks are.
Sumner's Radical Republican colleague, Thaddeus Stevens is also memorialized, as is Owen Lovejoy, a friend of Abraham Lincoln, and another radical abolitionist who had suffered from violence by pro-slavery forces. David Herold who was hung for his role in Lincoln's assassination is buried in an unmarked grave in the Cemetery, while James Pumphrey, who was not prosecuted for renting a horse to Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth, has an honored grave.
Please translate these articles into as many languages as possible. Many of these articles already have translations in dozens of languages, but visitors to Washington, DC speak every language that you can think of!
- John Quincy Adams, President, Senator, Representative (in about 80 languages)
- Joseph Anderson, (1757–1837), Senator — Tennessee, Comptroller of the U.S. Treasury. R31/S44. (in 4 languages)
- Alexander Dallas Bache, (1806–1867), Superintendent of the U.S. National Geodetic Survey|Coast Survey, Charter member United States National Academy of Sciences|National Academy of Sciences. R32/S194. (in 4 languages)
- Philip Pendleton Barbour, (1783–1841), Representative — Virginia, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (in 2 languages)
- Theodorick Bland, (1741–1790), Representative — Virginia; the first to die in office, reinterred 1828 with cenotaph. R 31/S48. (only English!)
- Thomas Blount, (1759–1812) Representative — North Carolina, Revolutionary War prisoner of war. R25/S8. (English + 1)
- Thomas Bouldin (1781-1834), Representative Virginia, cenotaph only. Only congressman to die while addressing Congress. R 29/ S 72. (English only!)
- Lemuel Jackson Bowden, (1815–1864), Senator — Virginia; represented Virginia during the Civil War. R60/S60. (English + 2)
- John Edward Bouligny, (1824–1864), Representative — Louisiana; the only member of the Louisiana Congressional delegation to retain his seat after the state seceded during the Civil War. Unmarked grave at R37/S104. (English + 3)
- Nick Begich, (1932-1972), Representative Alaska, shares cenotaph with Hale Boggs. (English + 2)
- Hale Boggs, (1914-1972), Representative Louisiana, House leader (English + 2)
- James Blair, (1786–1834), Representative South Carolina, strange story (English + 1)
- Mathew Brady, Photographer (English + 18)
- Jacob Brown, (1775–1828), commanding general U.S. Army, hero of the War of 1812 (English + 1)
- William A. Burwell, (1780–1821), Representative Virginia; private secretary to Thomas Jefferson (English only!)
- Preston Brooks, (1819-1857), Representative South Carolina; beat Senator Sumner with a cane nearly to death on Senate floor (English + 2)
- Andrew Pickens Butler, (1796–1857), Representative South Carolina, cause of above beating (English + 1)
- John C. Calhoun, pre-Civil War congressional leader
- Jonathan Cilley, (1802-1838), Representative Maine, killed in a duel by Rep. William J. Graves
- Henry Clay, pre-Civil War congressional leader (English + 21 languages)
- John E. Coffee, general and Georgia congressman, re-elected after he died. (English + 1)
- Thomas B. Cooper - congressman from Coopersburg, Pennsylvania. (English only)
- John Forsyth, (1780–1841), Representative and Senator — Georgia, Governor of Georgia, United States Secretary of State (English + 10)
- Henry Stephen Fox, (1791–1846), British diplomat
- Elbridge Gerry, (1744–1814), Vice President and the only signer of the Declaration of Independence buried in Washington, D.C. First Gerrymanderer.
- James Gillespie, (1747–1805), Revolutionary War soldier, Representative — North Carolina, reinterred at Congressional Cemetery 1893 at R60/S58. Cenotaph at R31/S59.
- George Hadfield, architect; superintendent of construction for the U.S. Capitol
- Archibald Henderson, (1783–1859), the longest serving Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps
- J. Pinckney Henderson (1799-1858), Senator Texas, cenotaph only. R60/S91.
- Charles Frederick Henningsen, (1815-1877), author, adventurer, filibuster, general.
- David Herold, (1842–1865), conspirator of the Abraham Lincoln assassination
- Nathaniel Hazard (1776-1820), Representative Rhode Island.
- Daniel Hiester (1747-1804), Represented both Pennsylvania and Maryland
- J. Edgar Hoover, (1895–1972), FBI Director (English + 30)
- Adelaide Johnson, (1859–1955), sculptor, social reformer
- Tom Lantos, representative
- Belva Ann Lockwood, (1830–1917), first woman attorney permitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court
- Owen Lovejoy, abolitionist, congressman, friend of Lincoln
- Alexander Macomb, Jr., (1782–1841), War of 1812 Hero, Commanding General of the Army and namesake of Macomb County and Macomb Township, Michigan; Macomb, Illinois and Macomb Mountain in New York (English + 3)
- Leonard Matlovich, 1st openly gay US serviceman (English + 3)
- Robert Mills, (1781–1855), architect and designer of the Washington Monument
- Robert Adam Mosbacher, (1927–2010), U.S. Secretary of Commerce
- Joseph Nicollet, (1786–1843), Mathemetician and explorer who mapped the upper Mississippi River; namesake of City of Nicollet, County of Nicollet and Nicollet Island in Minnesota.
- Tip O'Neill (1912-1994), Representative Massachusetts. Speaker of the House. "All politics is local."
- William Pinkney, (1764–1822), U.S. and Maryland Attorney General, Mayor of Annapolis, statesman and diplomat R29/S36
- James Pumphrey, (1832-1906), livery stable owner who rented a horse to John Wilkes Booth, used to escape Ford's Theater.
- Push-Ma-Ha-Ta, (c. 1760 – 1824), Native American (Choctaw) Chief
- Robert Rantoul, Jr. (1805-1852), Representative, Senator Massachusetts
- John Philip Sousa, (1854–1932), composer of many noted military and patriotic marches and conductor of the U.S. Marine Band
- Thaddeus Stevens (1792-1868), Representative Pennsylvania, leader or the abolitionist Radical Republicans
- Chief Taza, (c. 1849 – 1876), Apache Chief
- en:Thomas Tingey, (1750–1829), U.S. Navy commodore
- Anna Thornton (1775?-1865), wife of William Thornton, socialite
- William Thornton (1759-1828), first Architect of the Capitol
- John Payne Todd, son of Dolley Madison, step son of President James Madison. R41/S230.
- Clyde Tolson, (1900–1975), associate director of the FBI. Close friend of Hoover. R20/S156.
- Uriah Tracy (1755–1807), Representative and Senator Connecticut, first Congressman buried in Congressional Cemetery.
- William Wirt, (1772–1834), U.S. Attorney General, member of the Virginia House of Delegates, author. Lost his head, but it was returned.