The Collaboratory formed as a learning community in 2017. The Collaboratory’s mission is to bring together faculty, staff, students, organizations, and community partners in Richmond, Virginia, to document and support African American history and culture via the region’s cemeteries. We aim to produce place-based knowledge that contributes to a community dialogue about caring for our collective past. Our work seeks to restore the commemorative functions of historic African American cemeteries and to recognize the stories of the people buried therein. We hope our work can inspire future collaborations toward these ends.

From 2017 to the present, the Collaboratory has involved a number of individual and institutional partners.

Meghan Z. Gough, Jeannine Keefer, and Ryan K. Smith, 2023-2024
Jeannine Keefer and Ryan K. Smith, 2021-2023
Elizabeth Baughan and Kristine Grayson, 2017-2021

Community partners
Descendants Council of Greater Richmond, Virginia: represented by Loretta Tillman
Friends of East End Cemetery: represented by Brian Palmer, Erin Hollaway Palmer, Melissa Pocock, John Shuck
Woodland Restoration Foundation: represented by Marvin Harris and John Shuck
Library of Virginia: represented by Sonya Coleman and Jessica Bennett
Oakwood Arts: represented by Alex Gwynn
Star of Benevolence Society, St. James Cemetery, Henrico County

Affiliated faculty from the University of Richmond
Elizabeth Baughan, Emily Boone, Jory Brinkerhoff, Laura Browder, Alicia Diaz, Jan French, Kristine Grayson, Lauren Henley, Patricia Herrera, Jeannine Keefer, Melissa Ooten, Emmy Ready, Stephanie Spera, Danielle Stokes, Douglas Winiarski, and Beth Zizzamia

Affiliated faculty from Virginia Commonwealth University
Nanette Bailey, Susan Bodnar-Deren, Ywone Edwards-Ingram, Meghan Z. Gough, Kiara Lee, Kimberly Matthews, Bernard Means, Michael Rackett, and Ryan K. Smith

Programmatic support
Terry Dolson and Derek Miller, U.R.’s Bonner Center for Civic Engagement
Shari Garmise and Maghboobah Mosavel, VCU Office of Community Engagement; Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success; and Amanda Hall and Heidi Crapol, VCU Office of Community Engagement

Special thanks
Alexandra Byrum, Amanda Hall, Sylvia Gale, Shari Garmise, Taylor Holden, Maghboeba Mosavel, Aashir Nasim, Rob Nelson, Jolene Smith, Will Teeples

Involved coursesUniversity of Richmond
Biology: Integrated Biological Principles II; Eco-epidemiology; Human Demography
Classics: Introduction to Archaeology
Dance: Collaborative Arts Lab; Dance, Humanities, and Technology
First-Year Seminar: Death and Commemoration in Antiquity
First-Year Seminar: Representing Civil Rights in Richmond
First-Year Seminar: Why Do We Build?
Geography: Remote Sensing
Leadership: Justice and Civil Society
Religion/American Studies: Richmond: City of the Dead

Involved coursesVirginia Commonwealth University
History: The Art of Historical Detection; Seminar in History: Richmond Cemeteries;
American Material Culture
Sociology: Introduction to Sociology; Medical Sociology; Aging and the Life Course
University College: Focused Inquiry
Urban and Regional Studies/Planning: Sustainable Community Development