The Richmond Cemetery Archive, the product of years of data, image, and document collection by the Cemetery Collaboratory, launched online in 2019. A living repository serving descendants, students, and scholars, the archive will continue to grow and be improved over time as more records are transcribed and new content is added. Its initial focus was on the interments and community associated with Richmond’s East End Cemetery. More recently, it has expanded to encompass other historic African American cemeteries in central Virginia. 

The archive contains a wide range of documentation related to historic African American cemeteries and their communities. Digitized items include records such as marriage and death certificates, newspaper articles, family photographs, gravestone descriptions, and more.

The archive has two main components: a repository of record and a publicly accessible web portal. The portal was built for the Collaboratory by Performant Software Solutions with funding from a Creativity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship grant from the Office of the Provost at the University of Richmond.  

There are several ways to interact with the archive. Users can perform a keyword search, sort by last name, year of birth, and year of death, then filter by decades, locations, employers, fraternal and beneficial organizations, church affiliation, military service, and funeral home. Search results can be saved and shared by email or on social media. “In the years we’ve been working at East End, we’ve stashed away tons of documents and articles but had no way to share many of them with a wide audience,” says Erin Hollaway Palmer, a member of the Collaboratory and the Friends of East End. “Now anyone who’s interested in the cemetery and the community at rest there can find out more, all in one place.”