Daniel and Jessie Lie Farber were some of the earliest and most active enthusiasts for studying early American grave markers, and together photographed thousands of early gravestones. The Farbers also were instrumental in founding the Association for Gravestone Studies (AGS) in 1977. Further, the Farbers were instrumental in introducing Susan H. Kelly, Anne C. Williams, Ivan Rigby and Francis Duval, to the American Folk Art Museum, all of whom donated gravestone collections to the museum.
The Farbers photographed over 9,300 gravestone, mostly in the northeastern United States, but as far west as Texas as well as internationally. The Farbers were primarily interested in gravestones carved before 1800, and as such, this collection presents a portrait of early American thoughts on life and death.
While Daniel Farber was a businessman who devoted his free time to his interest in photography, Jessie Lie was a professional photographer as well as a teacher. Both were interested not only in the historical significance of the stones, but the folk art aspects as well. In fact, Jessie Lie's interest began after seeing gravestone rubbings at the Whitney Museum in 1974. By the time of their marriage in 1978, the Farbers were photographing as a team, and photographing early American gravestones almost exclusively.
The Farbers made many contributions to the study of early American gravestones, including improving the technique for photographing gravestones, enhancing the interest in this unique art form, and the important act of preserving graphics and inscriptions as the stones begin to degrade in their natural environments.