Fordham University’s Burial Database Project of Enslaved African Americans

Fordham University has announced plans to establish the Burial Database Project of Enslaved African Americans. The project aims to create a national database for burial grounds and cemeteries of enslaved African Americans within the United States.

Sandra Arnold

The project will be housed in the university’s department of African and African American studies and will be led by Sandra Arnold, a student in the history department and Irma Watkins-Owen, an associate professor of history at Fordham. Arnold’s great-grandparents are buried in undocumented grave sites on a former plantation in Tennessee.

A website has been developed where visitors can submit information on the burial places of slaves. The developers hope to have the database available for researchers by the first part of 2013.

The developers are asking the public to submit any information on a “grave site that includes one or more burials of persons who died enslaved or were born enslaved and died after emancipation.” They go on to explain that “most slave burial grounds in the United States are unmarked or abandoned, but we welcome any submission regardless of its documentation status (marked or unmarked) or its size or type. By providing us with general information, we can begin the steps of documenting the burial grounds and preparing the data for entry into the future database.”


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  1. Dr. John Franklin referred me to you. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this 18th century unmarked built-over burying ground in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A memorial park has been designed for part of the known burial area and is expected to be built within the next year. The enslavement of Africans in New Hampshire is documented as early as 1645. Local shipbuilders and merchants were engaged in the Atlantic Slave Trade. My book, Black Portsmouth: Three Centuries of African American Heritage details much of the history of this NH community.

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