Grave Matters: The Preservation of African-American Cemeteries

South Carolina SC African-Americans Grave Matters – Introduction

African-American cemeteries are a unique resource. They not only represent the last resting place of black Americans, but they are also storehouses of African-American history. The graveyards and the grave decorations offer an unusual glimpse of a part of history which is rapidly disappearing.

The cultural customs of the people using these cemeteries are quickly changing. In addition, the cemeteries themselves are being lost to development. Sometimes the locations of the cemeteries are not known. Other times, the cemeteries look "abandoned" and "uncared" for.

This booklet will help you discover the origins of African-American cemeteries, the beliefs of the people who have used them, and the reasons why they are so important to our understanding of black culture. You can play a vital role in helping to preserve these cemeteries.

© 1996 by Chicora Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transcribed in any form without permissions of Chicora Foundation, Inc. except for brief quotations used in reviews.

This publication was generously supported by a grant from the SC BellSouth Pioneer Volunteers, and we extend our appreciation for their interest in education and preservation. We also wish to acknowledge the use of photographs from the Brookgreen Gardens Archives, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, and from the South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

Chicora Foundation, Inc
PO Box 8664 • 861 Arbutus Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29202-8664


Grave Matters – Introduction
History of Black Cemeteries
Archaeology of Black Cemeteries
Differences of Black Cemeteries
Preservation of Black Cemeteries
How You Can Help
More Information
Important Resources
The Chicora Foundation


Understanding Slavery
Free Blacks in Charleston
Preserving Black Cemeteries
Mitchelville Experiment
Quash Stevens Letters