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Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia Hardcover – February 12, 2014


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press; First Edition edition (February 12, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813935342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813935348
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,865 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Rainville’s Hidden History presents a well-written, engaging, and at times truly revelatory study. Her careful research was conducted over a span of several years, which allows her observations to go beyond the superficial and the obvious. With a focus on local contexts, but deriving universal insights into history, heritage, memory, and preservation, Rainville’s work is an exemplar of the best sort of research.

(James Davidson, University of Florida)

Lynn Rainville takes us on a walking tour of African American cemeteries in central Virginia. She tells us about individual lives marked by headstones, fieldstones, and depressions in the sacred spaces where they continue to be part of a living community. She tells their stories, in slavery and freedom, while walking through their cemeteries, each of which connects individuals to families, locality, and region. Even the cemetery itself has a life defended against waves of migration and development. All of these stories are richly textured with detailed information about these sites and their communities, chosen with the eye of an academic authority who writes beautifully for everyone. Traversing these juxtapositions is Rainville’s personal twenty-year journey of encounters with these enduring yet vulnerable features on the intimate historic landscape of African America in Central Virginia.

(Michael Blakey, College of William and Mary)

About the Author

Lynn Rainville is Research Professor in the Humanities at Sweet Briar College, where she also serves as the Director of the Tusculum Institute.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By W. Scott Smith on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rainville has crafted a concise but comprehensive guide to navigating the complex world of African American burial customs. Through a series of case studies, cultural practices including gravestone designs, epitaph customs, and mortuary rituals are revealed. The book also contains practical advice on the unique challenges of locating, researching, and documenting African American cemeteries. Lynn Rainville has written a truly valuable book which will be useful for decades to come.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author's feel for the subject and respect for accuracy raise this above casual history. It really helps when the writer combines scholarship with insight and descriptive and narrative skill, as Ms. Rainville does. This book is a delight. Central Virginia is fortunate to have her.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A fabulous resource by a professional archaeologist, who empowers anyone to think outside the box. This is a great tool for identifying antebellum cemeteries and knowing what to do without destroying the site. A must read for anyone interested in historical preservation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bill Ferster on February 12, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dr. Rainville has written a fascinating, informative, and personal look into the African-American cemeteries that cover the central region of Virginia. These cemeteries are important sources for tracing genealogies, which are often complicated by slavery for centuries. Cemeteries are often a critical source of information to researching the lineages of formerly enslaved people, as they did not typically appear in resources such as census records until the postbellum era.

Rainville notes that these cemeteries are themselves often subject to “collateral damage” from abandonment, public utilities efforts, and the ever-encroaching suburban development of the once-rural environments their inhabitants were initially laid to rest in.

The book masterfully weaves the history of the area, the political context, and accounts from African-American families and their descendants with first-hand well-researched archeological explorations into a number of existing family cemeteries. There is fascinating discussion of nineteenth and early twentieth century burial practices from the preparation of the body to the laying of the headstone.

I enjoyed Rainville’s personal descriptions of her research and discovery process, and the book was a well-written and fascinating look into a world that deserves attention.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andi Cumbo-Floyd on March 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rainville has written a thoughtful, helpful book. The blend of practical advice with stories also makes it a very lovely read.
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More About the Author

Lynn Rainville received her PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology in 2001. After a decade of work in Turkey, she returned to an earlier research interest, historic cemeteries. She has taught anthropology and archaeology courses at the University of Michigan, Dartmouth College, University of Virginia, and Sweet Briar College. Her research interests range from slave cemeteries to war memorials, from segregated schools to historic architecture, from enslaved communities on antebellum plantations to rural neighborhoods, and from town poor farms to urban life in the 19th-century. In each of these projects she combines anthropological, archaeological, historical, and ethnographic methods to understand the daily lives of non-elites. Her work has been supported by numerous grants, from the National Science Foundation to the National Endowment for the Humanities, from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to the Wenner Gren Foundation, and from various private donors. Her most recent book is "Hidden History: African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia" (University of Virginia Press). She currently directs an institute for public history, the Tusculum Institute, at Sweet Briar College. Her personal website is www.lynnrainville.org.

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