Tour Leaders

Thomas H. Keels

Author and Tour Guide at Laurel HIll Cemetery

Tom Keels is a lecturer, writer, and commentator specializing in Philadelphia history and architecture. He is the author or co-author of seven published books, including Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries; Wicked Philadelphia: Sin in the City of Brotherly Love; and Forgotten Philadelphia: Lost Architecture of the Quaker City. Tom’s latest book, Sesqui! Greed, Graft, and The Forgotten World’s Fair of 1926 was published in 2017. He is now working on a 175th-anniversary history of The Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, to be published later this year.

A confirmed taphophile (Greek for “lover of graves”), Tom has been a tour guide at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia’s premier Victorian necropolis, for over 25 years. He has conducted classes on Philadelphia cemetery history for the Bucks County Community College Historic Preservation Program, Cheltenham Township Adult School, and Mount Airy Learning Tree.

Tom has appeared in numerous documentaries, including several episodes of History-Making Productions’ Philadelphia: The Great Experiment; Counter Culture and Philly Firsts on WLVT (PBS39); and Buried Stones, Buried Dreams, a feature on Mount Moriah Cemetery for the Precious Places Project. He has appeared on two episodes of Mysteries at the Museum on the Travel Channel, discussing counterfeit Confederate currency and the real-life origins of the classic horror film The Blob.

Tom was a Contributing Writer for the Rittenhouse Sq. Revue, writing monthly articles on Philadelphia landmarks and lore. His articles have also appeared in the Chestnut Hill Local, Main Line Times, Springfield Sun, Philadelphia Style Magazine, Germantown Crier, and the Journal of the Historical Society of Montgomery County.


From Goodbye to Hello: Cemeteries as Civic Spaces

Saturday, June 18
10:00 AM - 3:30 PM