Recovering and Preserving African American Cemeteries – Preservation Leadership Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Pinewood Cemetery COPYRIGHT Nadia Orton
Pine Forest Cemetery, Wilmington, North Carolina

The reverence attached to cemeteries and burial grounds, which have long been considered sacred sites, is an example of enduring Africanisms and cultural tradition in the African American community. Burial grounds have always been regarded as places where ancestors could be properly honored and provided with the dignity, care, and respect in death that had often been denied them in life.

Interest in the study of my family tree has led me to over a dozen cemeteries throughout Tidewater Virginia and North Carolina, and helped reconstruct a family legacy spanning over 400 years. Cemeteries offer an important, tangible connection to history allowing closer interpretation of days past than most other sources can. Genealogists and family historians have long recognized the benefit of cemeteries in the study of family history and an increasing popular interest in genealogy has led to an increased focus on them.  READ MORE

One thought on “Recovering and Preserving African American Cemeteries – Preservation Leadership Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation

  • Nadia,
    In doing research on Arthur Hancock, a free African American, who was born ca. 1795 and died at Norfolk, VA in July 1849, I tried to find information on African American cemeteries in Norfolk. I learned that cemeteries for blacks, such as Calvary, weren’t established until the 1870s. However, I found this in History of Norfolk County, Virginia and Representative Citizens, c. 1902, Chapter XXI, History of the City of Norfolk, p. 340

    “Another thing worthy of notice was a colored cemetery at the southwest corner of Hawk and Scott streets. It included nearly the whole of Queen, a third of the north side of Bute, nearest to Church, a square and a half on Church of parts of James, Smith, Bank, and Hawk.”

    In Googling Norfolk streets the only locale that seemed somehow connected were Church and Smith streets. Smith St. runs from E. Princess Anne Rd. to Henry St. Henry St. intersects with Church St. the whole of which is close to Cedar Grove Cemetery.

    My question then is whether you’re familiar with this cemetery, or might know of someone who might be. If you could email me it’d be appreciated.

    Thanks for your time.,
    Donald Thompson

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