Brian Palmer and Erin Hollaway Palmer, journalists as well as founding members of the Friends of East End Cemetery, conceived of this website and worked with Jolene Smith to create it. The ever-expanding site is a vital part of the effort to restore East End Cemetery.
The physical cleanup project reclaims this once manicured memorial park from nature and neglect. This website seeks to reclaim the history of the cemetery and the community it served from obscurity.
We designed eastendcemeteryrva.com as a visually dynamic, interactive resource that features photographs made at East End as well as archival images from public-domain sources and from relatives of the deceased; primary documents about the cemetery and the people buried there; and narratives that we create from these materials. The site is also designed to accept content from users—photos, documents, stories.
The site has three main sections: People, Place, and Context. The People section, which is searchable by several means, provides immediate access to images and information related to particular individuals buried at East End. In addition to hard-to-come-by portraits, images include Brian’s headstone photographs and scans of primary documents—newspaper ads and articles, interview transcripts, letters, pages from antebellum Registers of Free Negroes.
Place is a gallery of contemporary photos of the cemetery and the ongoing restoration effort led by the Friends of East End. At the moment, the majority of images are Brian’s, but we are now accepting and curating original photos by other photographers.
The backbone of Context is an interactive map that highlights major events and key locations that are significant to the story of African American Richmond. Entries cover the time span during which those interred at East End lived. That period begins in the 1840s and extends into the Civil Rights era. (There were burials at East End as late as 2002, but the vast majority of burials were before the 1980s.) We will expand the Context section by adding essays about critical events relevant to the African American community during that time.