New Online Database Supports Research into African-American Cemetery

February 26, 2014

Mary Baldwin University has launched a new website that will make it easier to navigate one professor’s extensive research into a local African-American cemetery.

fairview cem siteThe Fairview Cemetery website — produced in conjunction with Augusta Free Press — includes a thorough database of historical records collected over the past decade by Mary Baldwin Associate Professor of History Amy Tillerson-Brown and her students.

Since its establishment in 1869 at the intersection of Lambert and Augusta streets in Staunton, Fairview has remained an important local landmark, providing a wellspring of stories and serving as a testament to the tradition of community building in the city’s black community.

The first Mary Baldwin University students to collect research surrounding Fairview Cemetery began their work in 2005. Since then, approximately 15 students have contributed to the project in ways ranging from participating in community forums to conducting oral interviews and locating and analyzing primary-source documents.

“I am quite happy that the student-developed inventory of graves is now accessible to the larger public and I am excited about the prospects of future research possibilities,” Tillerson-Brown said. “In the near future, I hope that we will be able digitize images and primary sources and link them to the appropriate fields that exist in the current site.”

Tillerson-Brown also noted the college’s support of her work with students. For example, she said, some students received academic credit for completion of a colloquium focused on writing and collecting local history; others were appointed to work-study Changemaker positions made available through the Spencer Center.

In addition, members of the Staunton community shared their memories and donated photographs, obituaries, and other documents pertinent to Fairview research.

“Without the support of the Staunton community, this project would not have witnessed its current level of development,” Tillerson-Brown said. “This is yet another wonderful example of our college and community collaboration.”