Histories

Richmond in 1886, courtesy of the Library of Virginia

For an understanding of the rich history of the Richmond region’s African American cemeteries and the challenges they have faced, the following resources are helpful.

General
Richmond Cemeteries project, a website created by Ryan K. Smith featuring an exploration of the broader cemetery landscape around the city. It includes histories, images, and student research on a variety of different burial grounds.

Veronica Davis, Here I Lay My Burdens Down: A History of the Black Cemeteries of Richmond, Virginia (Richmond: Dietz Press, 2000)

T. Tyler Potterfield, Nonesuch Place: A History of the Richmond Landscape (Charleston: History Press, 2009)

Lynn Rainville, Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014)

Selden Richardson, Built By Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods
in Richmond, Virginia
(Charleston: History Press, 2008)

Ryan K. Smith, Death and Rebirth in a Southern City: Richmond’s Historic Cemeteries (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020)

Cemetery Collaboratory Library Guide, Boatwright Memorial Library, University of Richmond

African Burial Ground in Shockoe Bottom
Bryan Clark Green and Matthew R. Laird, “Remembering the Devil’s Half Acre: Examining the History, Archaeology, and Architecture of Richmond’s Shockoe Valley,” 2018

Mai-Linh K. Hong, “Get Your Asphalt Off My Ancestors!”: Reclaiming Richmond’s African Burial Ground, Law, Culture and the Humanities, 2013

Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project by the Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality

Shawn Utsey, Meet Me in the Bottom: The Struggle to Reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground, 2011

Gibson Worsham, “The Location of Richmond’s First African-American Burial Ground,” 2015

Barton Heights Cemeteries
East End Cemetery Collaboratory, Barton Heights Cemeteries digital resources, 2023

Gregg D. Kimball and Nancy Jawish Rives, “To Live in Hearts We Leave Behind is Not to Die: The Barton Heights Cemeteries of Richmond,” Virginia Cavalcade 46 (Winter 1997): 118-31

Denise I. Lester, National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Barton Heights Cemeteries, 2002

Ryan K. Smith, Philip N. J. Wythe’s Headstone, Southern Cultures 23 (Fall 2017): 39-46

East End and Evergreen Cemeteries
Descendant Voices at East End and Evergreen Cemeteries, 2021

East End Cemetery RVA, a website created by Brian Palmer, Erin Hollaway Palmer, and Jolene Smith

Eric S. Huffstutler, “And They Weep… A Richmond Disgrace,” part 1 in Church Hill Association’s Community Newsletter, October 2014 and part 2 in Church Hill Association’s Community Newsletter, November/December 2014

Brian Palmer, The Enrichmond Files, Medium.com, May 26, 2023

Brian Palmer, Enwhatnow? Medium.com, December 23, 2022

Brian Palmer, The Lives of East End: Recovering African American Burial Grounds, Virginia Quarterly Review 96 (Winter 2020)

Adam Rosenblatt, Erin Hollaway Palmer, and Brian Palmer, “Permanent Reconstruction in Richmond’s Black Cemeteries,” in Kami Fletcher and Ashley Towle, eds., Grave History: Death, Race, and Gender in Southern Cemeteries (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2023)

Stephanie Spera, Elizabeth Zizzamia, Matthew Franklin, and Ryan K. Smith “Recovering a Black Cemetery: Automated Mapping of Hidden Gravesites using an sUAV and GIS in East End Cemetery, Richmond, VA,” International Journal of Historical Archaeology (2022)

Mount Olivet Cemetery
Nancy C. Frantel, Richmond, Virginia, Lost Souls Restored: African-American Interments as Listed in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Register, 1875-1908 (Westminster, Md.: Heritage Books, 2011

St. James Cemetery, Varina, Henrico County
Elizabeth P. Baughan, ed.,  Report on mapping, gravemarker documentation, and biographical research
at Saint James Cemetery, Varina, Henrico County, Virginia
(University of Richmond, 2024)

Shockoe Hill African Burying Ground
Lenora McQueen, “Honoring Ancestors,” Style Weekly, October 20, 2020

L. Daniel Mouer, Lenora McQueen, Ryan K. Smith, Steve Thompson, National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Shockoe Hill Burying Ground Historic District, 2022

Ryan K. Smith, “Disappearing the Enslaved: The Destruction and Recovery of Richmond’s Second African Burial Ground,” Buildings & Landscapes 27 (Spring 2020): 17-45

Photo from Rev. John Jasper’s Funeral Procession, courtesy of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church archives

Woodland Cemetery
Ann Field Alexander, Race Man: The Rise and Fall of the “Fighting Editor,” John Mitchell Jr. (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2002)

We all deserve better, WRIC, 2021

Woodland Cemetery restoration plan, Henrico County, 2020

Woodland Restoration Foundation

Related initiatives
VCU’s East Marshall Well Street Project

University of Richmond Burying Ground Memorialization Committee

Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery, Charlottesville, Virginia

Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project, Clemson, South Carolina

The Durham Black Burial Grounds Collaboratory, Durham, North Carolina

Greenwood Cemetery Preservation Association, St. Louis, Missouri

Resurrecting Mount Auburn Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland

University of Georgia’s Brooklyn Cemetery Project, Athens, Georgia

Black Cemetery Network at the University of South Florida

Universities Studying Slavery collective