African American Historic Cemetery Preservation

The Anne Arundel County cemetery database contains more than 100 known historic African American cemeteries, but many are undocumented and many more are estimated to be awaiting discovery, with the result that the County's Cultural Resources Division considers African American cemeteries to be among its most endangered historic sites due to the destructive forces of neglect, development, and natural disaster. The Cultural Resources Section runs a volunteer-driven Citizen Preservation Stewardship program that focuses on developing public workshops to teach cemetery preservation and to foster citizen support in gathering documentation on historic cemeteries, particularly African American Cemeteries. One recent workshop took place this past October at the Ebenezer AME Church in Galesville, where documentation included the capture of oral tradition on where family members were buried in unmarked portions of the churchyard.

Remembrance Ceremony at Crownsville Patient Cemetery

More than 1,600 individuals who passed away while at the Crownsville Hospital were interred at the Crownsville Patient Cemetery, just across the Farm Road Bridge in the Bacon Ridge Natural Area. These 'patients" often had no next of Kin and were unceremoniously buried in the Hospital Cemetery. Research by local historian Janice Hayes-Williams has brought these people and their stories back into the light, and their lives are now celebrated each year with a moving "Say My Name" ceremony, held in conjunction with the "Walk in the Woods" event each spring. Plans are also underway to stablish a permanent memorial on the site in memory and to honor those buried here.

At the direction of the Maryland General Assembly, the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture (MCAAHC) and the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT, part of the Maryland Department of Planning) are working together on a study documenting the needs of historic African American cemeteries. If you have a cemetery of concern, you can help this State-led initiative by completing a survey here which is a part of the data-gathering effort to identify funding needs and preservation obstacles for African American cemeteries. Learn more about the project here.

Historic Cemeteries

Preservation Stewardship

Citizen Preservation Stewardship Program

Become a Preservation Steward for local history! Join the team for hands-on, interactive and educational programs year-round.