“Black Gotham in/outside the Archive”: Cemeteries as Archives, Cypress Hills Cemetery

As Peterson said in the Q&A after her March 22 lecture, “There is no limit to where your imagination can go in search of archives.” Including the graveyard.  Peterson visited Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn to find the burial sites of her ancestors and their friends. From a printout she received at the cemetery’s front office, Peterson learned not only the locations of the graves, but also the dates of purchase for the plots. The bulk of the family and church communities that she had uncovered in her research had all bought burial plots between January and May of 1850, indicating that they desired to be a community in death, as they had been in life.

Image from New-York Historical Society, St. Philip’s Church on Centre Street, c. 1819


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