Portsmouth, Virginia: The life and death of Rosebud Rudolph Douglass Aggrey (1882-1961)

Mrs. Rosebud “Rose” Rudolph Douglass Aggrey, Livingstone College, ca. 1927.

Anyone who briefly reviews my blog knows I’m a longtime researcher of African American cemeteries throughout the South. Ever since 2007, cemeteries have remained some of the primary sources through which I’ve learned priceless bits of information, details that helped complete our family’s historical narrative often in ways no other sources can. So you’d think it’d be no surprise to me that one can still glean interesting details from years-old cemetery photos, yet this is exactly what happened during a recent routine newspaper dive for family history.

Suffolk, Virginia: First view of Oak Lawn Cemetery’s highway historical marker!

I’ve written the text for two highway historical markers for African American cemeteries in Virginia: the Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex (est. 1879), Portsmouth, in 2016, and Oak Lawn Cemetery (est. 1885), Suffolk, in 2019. However, I never knew how they were made. Thanks to a wonderful story about the manufacturer, Sewah Studios (Marietta, Ohio), I know the answer. The historical marker for Oak Lawn Cemetery is shown briefly in this great video courtesy of WTAP News, Parkersburg, West Virginia.

In Their Own Words: Mary Jane Wilson, Educator – Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex, Portsmouth, Virginia

Gravestone of Mary Jane Wilson, Mt. Calvary Cemetery (Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex). Photo: Nadia K. Orton, March 5, 2011. All rights reserved.

In 1937, Ms. Mary Jane Wilson, “Pioneer Negro Teacher of Portsmouth, Virginia,” reflects on her life…