In Hidden History, Lynn Rainville travels through the forgotten African American cemeteries of central Virginia to recover information crucial to the stories of the black families who lived and worked in the region for over two hundred years. The subjects of Rainville's research are not statesmen or plantation elites; they are hidden residents, people who are typically underrepresented in historical research but whose stories are essential for a complete understanding of our national past. Combining historical, anthropological, and archaeological perspectives, she analyzes documents - such as wills, obituaries, and letters - as well as gravestones and graveside offerings. Rainville's findings shed light on family genealogies, the rise and fall of segregation, and attitudes toward religion and death. As many of these cemeteries are either endangered or already destroyed, the book includes a discussion on the challenges of perservation and how the reader may vist, and help preserve, these valuable cultural assets.
"With a focus on local contexts, but deriving universal insights into history, heritage, memory, and preservation, Rainville's work is an examplar of the best sort of research." -- James Davidson, University of Florida
Lynn Rainville is Research Professor in the Humanities at Sweet Briar College, where she also serves as the Director of the Tusculum Institute.