Tales From the Graveyard

March 2014 Update:
Found a very interesting post on reading and preserving eroded headstones 

Also the PAAC (Preservation of African American Cemeteries) looks like a very interesting resource for preserving African American burial grounds. They have a conference coming up May 10-11, 2014

December 2013
Currently working on my final paper for my Headstones and Burial Grounds course at Brown University. It has been both an interesting and frustrating course. I think I may have grown too used to taking Africana studies courses here. It is very aggravating  to read works by people with no background in Africana scholarship writing articles about black culture. It is even more upsetting when those works are part of the curriculum for your course…and they have been part of the curriculum for years. Meaning there are a lot of misinformed people out there who don't even know and possibly don't care how misinformed they are. 

This blog post is fun example of what I am talking about Of Slavery, Psalms, and Sculpture. Thankfully the last commentator corrected most of the misinformation found in the post. She did miss one piece though. The article's author claimed that a colonial era enslaved Rhode Island man carved his wife's headstone and included a portrait of her in African dress. Thats pretty much impossible since the carver was likely either first or second generation American born. The likelihood that he even know what authentic "African dress" looked like is incredibly slim. 

Anyways I'll post my paper here when I'm finished. Well it will be 20 pages so I'll post a snippet and a link in case anyone is interested. 

Yes, yes. I know. I am probably the only person you know who spends all of their vacation time in cemeteries...but it's worth it.

Crouching between my great great grandmother Alice's grave on the right and the newly discovered grave of  my great great grandfather Tom Magby on the left. July 6th, 2013.


  1. Zingo Stevens, as many other 18 century Africans in Newport, RI originated in West Africa. Please feel free to visit www.colonialcemetery.com

    1. Hello Keith! Thank you for your comment. From what I have read so far Zingo Stevens and Pompe Stevens are two different people, even though they are conflated in the article I linked to. Pompe is the man the stone should have been attributed to. Also, from what I have read so far Pompe was believed to have been born in America. If you can point me to scholarship that says otherwise I would appreciate it since I will be turing in my paper on Thursday and want to ensure that I am using only the most valid and up to date scholarship.

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