Richmond, Virginia Lost Souls: Restored African-American Interments as listed in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery Register, 1875-1908


Beneath the surface of a quiet hillside in Richmond, Virginia, lies important history. The hillside holds the unmarked remains of African-Americans in a cemetery named Mt. Olivet. What started out as a basic interment register transcription by the author turned into tracking evidence on a trail of unsettling activities that took place on land she considered sacred. With over 1,300 interments listed, Frantel’s goal was to bring light to those who time had forgotten. Instead, what she discovered was entry after entry listing gravesites as “reopened” or “with another” indicating multiple burials in the same grave. Much of the surface provided few clues regarding individual interments, therefore the author hired an engineering firm to conduct ground penetrating radar on portions of the site. The 2-D and 3-D images retrieved as a result are shocking. The below-ground disturbance indications document the distressing, questionable cemetery activities from that time. The signal sent back from the GPR beckons us to consider the message from the past. Consider the inaudible child, who was interred on May 27, 1901 and died from “want of attention,”—she may have the loudest voice of all.

The book includes the register’s front name index which is arranged partially alphabetically by surname, and includes: full name and page number. The interment entries are listed chronologically and include (as available): full name, date interred, age, marital status, gender, cause of death, partial gravesite location information and remarks. An appendix provides the local Mayor’s humble speech from 1878 indicating his concern for the “lack of securely marked grave locations” at the cemetery. An editorial apparatus, bibliography and full name index complete the work.

Nancy C. Frantel

2011, 5½x8½, paper, index, 198 pp.

ISBN: 9780788453304