Ghost town survey


If you’re at this page you have probably seen a survey about ghost towns in the USA, and are looking for more information. Please read through the following sections, and if you still have questions you can contact me here.

(If you are here by chance, you can take a look at the survey here)

What is heritage crime?
Heritage crime is (mostly*) illegal activity that causes damage to our historic fabric and cultural knowledge. It might include theft of objects; looting of building structures; or graffiti. If you’d like to find out more, I’ve written some papers here and here, and edited a book (here).

Why ghost towns?
I’ve been fascinated by ghost towns ever since I visited Bodie, California in May 2015. There’s a book there filled with all the letters that accompanied the objects that people stole and later returned. The tie in with my work on heritage crime was obvious! Ghost towns are often in remote areas which makes them impossible to police in a traditional sense. I’m interested in whether this remoteness makes them more or less at risk than other heritage sites, and how this risk changes depending on the way the site is used. For example, is a site that is popular with tourists at less risk because there is money to preserve it, and people around to deter crime? Or is it at greater risk because more people are familiar with the site and therefore want to steal a ‘souvenir’? Is there any correlation between stories of curses and the theft of items?

Why a survey?
This is (hopefully) the first step in a much bigger piece of research. A survey is a low-cost way of finding out some of the information I need for my research. I’d love to spend some time visiting and talking to people who are passionate about preserving ghost towns, who really know the legends, or who work or live in ghost towns. I want to understand how any deterioration and criminal activity at ghost towns affect the people who still use them. In the longer term, I hope to find out what people are doing to protect these pieces of history, and compile some guidance to share with others.

What will happen to the findings?
I’ll be writing the survey findings up into a research publication that will get submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. I’ll post a link on this website once the paper has been published, and email it to anyone who has requested it. The findings will also be used to inform my future research, and funding I apply for. I’m active on Twitter (@drlouisegrove) so I’ll probably tweet about it, and if any magazines are interested I’ll write some shorter pieces for them too.

Will my taking part in this study be kept confidential?
You keep control both of how much information you share with me, and how much of that information I share in publications. There are two places in the survey where you might give me some identifiable information. At each of these places you will be asked whether or not you are happy for this information to be shared. The first is the name of the ghost town you answer questions about. The second is your details. If you say no to either of these questions, those pieces of information will not be identifiable in any output. The software used is Bristol Online Surveys (BOS). BOS is designed to protect respondent anonymity and therefore does not use cookies, external tracking software nor respondents’ IP addresses, so you know exactly what information you have given me.

What if I change my mind about taking part?
If you have completed the survey and decide you want to withdraw your answers, please get in touch. As long as I can identify your entry (for example through your email address) I can remove your data. You can withdraw at any time, for any reason and you will not be asked to explain your reasons for withdrawing. However, once the results of the study are aggregated (expected to be by the end of September 2017), it will not be possible to withdraw your individual data from the research.

What if I am not happy with how the research was conducted?
I hope this isn’t the case! However, Loughborough University has a policy for this that you can read here: Please contact Ms Jackie Green, the Secretary for the University’s Ethics Approvals (Human Participants) Sub-Committee on

I have another question…
Please, don’t hesitate to get in contact with me.

*Why do I say mostly? Well, heritage crime is an international issue, and something that damages heritage might be considered legal in one country, but not in another. In some countries the government might sanction damage to historic sites in order to allow for ‘progress’ whilst in others the law protects any site of potential importance from developers. You might also think about heritage crime in terms of cultural shifts that discourage the use of a minority language, for example – this is intangible heritage crime, and whilst important to be aware of, it is outside the scope of the current study.