Grave History: Death, Race, and Gender in Southern Cemeteries

Grave History: Death, Race, and Gender in Southern Cemeteries


Link to Full Text

Download Full Text

Document Type



Grave sites not only offer the contemporary viewer the physical markers of those remembered but also a wealth of information about the era in which the cemeteries were created. These markers hold keys to our historical past and allow an entry point of interrogation about who is represented, as well as how and why.

Grave History is the first volume to use Southern cemeteries to interrogate and analyze Southern society and the construction of racial and gendered hierarchies from the antebellum period through the dismantling of Jim Crow. Through an analysis of cemeteries throughout the South—including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Virginia, from the nineteenth through twenty-first centuries—this volume demonstrates the importance of using the cemetery as an analytical tool for examining power relations, community formation, and historical memory.

Grave History draws together an interdisciplinary group of scholars, including historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, and social-justice activists to investigate the history of racial segregation in southern cemeteries and what it can tell us about how ideas regarding race, class, and gender were informed and reinforced in these sacred spaces.

Each chapter is followed by a learning activity that offers readers an opportunity to do the work of a historian and apply the insights gleaned from this book to their own analysis of cemeteries. These activities, designed for both the teacher and the student, as well as the seasoned and the novice cemetery enthusiast, encourage readers to examine cemeteries for their physical organization, iconography, sociodemographic landscape, and identity politics.



Publication Date



University of Georgia Press


HISTORY / United States / State & Local / South (AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV) HISTORY / United States / 20th Century HISTORY / United States / 19th Century SOCIAL SCIENCE / Race & Ethnic Relations HISTORY / African American SOCIAL SCIENCE / Death & Dying


Ashley Towle (assistant professor of History at the University of Southern Maine) edited this book.

Grave History: Death, Race, and Gender in Southern Cemeteries