Building Community in Richmond’s Historic African American Cemeteries

In 2017, faculty across disciplines from the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University, along with members of the Friends of East End volunteer group, formed a learning community called the East End Cemetery Collaboratory.

Since that time, the renamed Collaboratory has expanded its partners to include the Descendants Council of Greater Richmond, the Woodland Restoration Foundation, and, at various times, Oakwood Arts, the Star of Benevolence Society, and the City of Richmond’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities. The initiative has involved volunteer cleanup days, student research and collaboration, community gatherings, and the creation of cemetery maps and archives. 

The Collaboratory has also expanded its scope to engage with multiple African American cemeteries in the region, including the Barton Heights Cemeteries and Woodland Cemetery. Our work has been supported by UR’s Bonner Center for Civic Engagement and VCU’s Division of Community Engagement among others.

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.

Mapping and Imaging

Explore and learn about the cemeteries with interactive maps and 3D grave marker scans.


Take a journey through cemetery histories with this extensive list of resources.


Dig through years of data, images, and documents collected by the Richmond Cemetery Collaboratory