Students work to preserve historic African-American cemetery

PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) – Students from across the area are working to preserve history in one of Petersburg’s oldest African-American cemeteries.

Students from Petersburg and Prince George high schools, as well as Virginia State University, are working for six weeks in People’s Cemetery in Petersburg this summer.

Petersburg National Battlefield Education Specialist Leslie McClammy said the students are working on an archiving and restoration project at the cemetery. This includes recording names from crumbling gravesites and cleaning up the historic graveyard.

Numerous veterans from the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II, including a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, are buried at the cemetery.

The students have been volunteering on the project for two years. However, for this summer, the students are being paid to complete the six-week project.

Additionally, McClammy is asking the public to help to solve the mysteries associated with some of the graves. Little is known about some of the people buried at the historic cemetery and she is hopeful the community will help unlock those mysteries.

For example, McClammy said that if anyone has photos, records, deeds or other information about someone buried at the cemetery, the park service can scan the info and record the data.

“We’re building a searchable database to be used in conjunction with Blandford Cemetery and to be turned over to the National Archives as part of their genecology and Virginia Roots project,” said McClammy.

Email Leslie_ McClammy@nps.gov or drop off the materials at the Eastern Front Visitor Center at Petersburg National Battlefield.

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