East End Cemetery Collaboratory Courses

East End Cemetery is a historic African American burial ground in Henrico County and the city of Richmond, Virginia. In 2017–18, faculty from UR and VCU, along with members of the Friends of East End, formed a learning community called the East End Cemetery Collaboratory.

The Collaboratory's mission is to support the years-long effort to restore the cemetery by engaging students and faculty across disciplines and institutions. Their work entails the curation and documentation of African American history and culture in Richmond, as well as the reclamation of the cemetery site. The Collaboratory aims to produce place-based knowledge that contributes to a community dialogue about our collective past.

Partner Programs and Organizations

The Friends of East End is an all-volunteer nonprofit working to restore East End Cemetery and document the history of the community it served. See the workday calendar for upcoming volunteer dates.

Oakwood Arts, a Church Hill nonprofit, makes art and careers in creative industries accessible to all through community engagement, inspiring programming, and experiential education.

VCU ASPiRE is a living-learning program promoting community engagement through academic coursework and co-curricular experiences.

The Digital Scholarship Lab develops innovative digital humanities projects that contribute to research and teaching at and beyond the University of Richmond.

The Spatial Analysis Laboratory (SAL) is the Department of Geography and the Environment's lab for GIS, spatial analysis, and remote sensing courses, where students learn the underlying principles of spatial analysis and technology.

Faculty Fellows

The East End Cemetery Collaboratory has been led by two faculty facilitators since 2017: Elizabeth Baughan and Kristine Grayson.

Affiliated faculty: Nanette Bailey, Erin Hollaway, Ywone Edwards-Ingram, Jeannine Keefer, Melissa Ooten, Brian Palmer, Ryan Smith, Stephanie Spera, Mike Rackett, John Shuck, Jolene Smith, and Beth Zizzamia.

Programmatic support: Terry Dolson and Derek Miller

Connected Courses

University of Richmond:

  • Biology 202: Integrated Biological Principles II
  • Biology 336: Eco-epidemiology
  • Classics 220: Introduction to Archaeology
  • Dance 319: Collaborative Arts Lab: Dance, Humanities, and Technology
  • First-Year Seminar: Death and Commemoration in Antiquity
  • First-Year Seminar: Representing Civil Rights in Richmond
  • First-Year Seminar: Why Do We Build?
  • Religion 358/American Studies 381: Richmond: City of the Dead


  • History 201: The Art of Historical Detection
  • History 490: Richmond Cemeteries
  • HIST 653: American Material Culture
  • Sociology 391: Aging and the Life Course
  • Sociology 445: Medical Sociology
  • UNIV 112: Focused Inquiry

Ongoing Projects

Years in the making, the Collaboratory's online map of East End Cemetery pinpoints the locations of grave markers using GIS technology and drone imagery. The map is updated as new markers are uncovered.

East End Cemetery RVA, a website created by Brian Palmer, Erin Hollaway Palmer, and Jolene Smith, 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 created from these materials. The site is also designed to accept content from user photos, documents, stories.

The Friends of East End and other cemetery volunteers post photographs of grave markers found at East End on Find A Grave. Using death certificates and obituaries, they also create memorials for people whose markers have not yet been found. It is estimated that upwards of 15,000 people are buried at East End. As of spring 2020, more than 3,600 burials have been documented on Find A Grave.

Collaboratory Sponsors

Bonner Center for Civic Engagement

VCU Center for Community Engagement and Impact

A&S Contested Spaces

Creativity-Innovation-Entrepreneurship (CIE)

Friends of East End

Special thanks to Alexandra Byrum, Taylor Holden, Rob Nelson, and Beth Zizzamia.


Volunteers use GPS technology to map, clean up East End Cemetery. NBC12, 2 Feb. 2020.

Virginia Legislators Work to Expand Preservation of African American Cemeteries. RVA Mag, 14 Mar. 2019.

Back to Class: "Richmond: City of the Dead"Richmond Times-Dispatch, 13 Aug. 2018.

East End Cemetery Collaboratory: UR and VCU deepen connections to historic African-American Cemetery. University of Richmond, November 2017.


Photographs by Brian Palmer