Spaulding Cemetery

Spaulding Cemetery is located off Arch Street in East Athens. Today, the lot is wooded and overgrown. Aside from locals, few would realize that this space was once, during the Jim Crow Era, a centerpiece of the Black community. As noted by Wilbur Zelinsky’s The Enigma of Ethnicity, the “spatial segregation of the American dead was the rule” in the era before municipal or commercial burry places. And Athens was no exception. Oconee Hill, a Victorian-style garden cemetery located near the University of Georgia’s campus, had segregated sections for whites, Jews, Blacks, and paupers. Even in death, race and ethnicity and socioeconomic status mattered greatly to white Southerners. Oconee Hill Cemetery, as a result, catered primarily to wealthy white and Jewish Southerners; the African-American section, prone to flooding and placed in the least desirable section of the cemetery, had no provision for perpetual care. Spaulding, Brooklyn, and Gospel Pilgrim Cemeteries, then, served an important role in the community by offering formerly enslaved individuals and free people of color a space of their own -- to mourn, to grieve, to Rest In Peace -- in the segregated Jim Crow South.

Address: Old Winterville Road & Arch Street Athens, Athens, GA 30601

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  • Department of History
    220 LeConte Hall, Baldwin Street
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602-1602
  • 706-542-2053
  • 706-542-2455

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