J. Henry Brown-a-thon!

Grave Artistry: New Findings from the J. Henry Brown Order Books,” April 26, 2024 at 5:30pm at the Library of Virginia.

The Richmond Cemetery Collaboratory invites the public to an event celebrating the Library of Virginia’s acquisition of fourteen additional volumes of order books from Richmond’s J. Henry Brown Monuments company.

Established in 1885, Brown’s shop specialized in creating gravestones. The order books contain thousands of detailed entries, documenting markers erected in almost every cemetery in central Virginia. These volumes cross racial, religious, ethnic, and economic boundaries and are the only surviving records for many markers that no longer exist.

The Library of Virginia’s initial collection of twelve order books from J. Henry Brown span 1899-1920. The newly acquired volumes, unknown by researchers until now, span 1928 through 1958. Together, these volumes offer an unparalleled view of grave markers across the region.

For a look inside the volumes, join us for a festive event in the Library’s lobby on Friday, April 26, at 5:30pm. A panel presentation will give an overview of the volumes and examples of their use, including remarks from the Library’s senior archivist Trenton Hizer, University of Richmond Classics professor Elizabeth Baughan, longtime cemetery volunteer John Shuck, and VCU History professor Ryan K. Smith. Duke University’s Adam Rosenblatt, author of the forthcoming book Cemetery Citizens, will offer concluding comments and connections. Samples of the volumes will be on display. Refreshments will be provided.

We hope attendees will be energized by the possibilities and engage with Brown’s legacy – archival and material – across the memorial landscape.

This event is sponsored by the Library of Virginia, the Richmond Cemetery Collaboratory, and Virginia Commonwealth University. Special thanks to the Oakwood Monument Company.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *