“Doin’ It Up Right”: Safeguarding the African-American Burial Landscape Through the Lens of Eden Cemetery

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ethnographic landscape
condemned burial sites
lawn-park cemeteries
cultural landscapes
types of African-American burial sites
Historic Preservation and Conservation
Landscape Architecture
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Caldwell, Charlette

This thesis involved researching the significance of African-American burial sites, how and why they were and continue to be created. The legacy of these types correlate to the formation of Eden Cemetery. I researched existing scholarship on the subject of African-American burial sites, cultural factors driving these types, and the history of Eden Cemetery to gain insight into the history of the black community’s responses to burial site relocation in Philadelphia. I discovered that Eden derives its significance from being the only available place for condemned black sites in Philadelphia in the beginning of the twentieth century due to the efforts of those who continued the legacy of establishing a burial place of respect for blacks that was seen in condemned sites such as Lebanon Cemetery and Olive Cemetery, black churchyards, and as well as petitioning to section off the black-only sections of Philadelphia’s potter’s fields. The result formed the beginnings of cultural landscape report that could be used to analyze and interpret other black burial sites that are part of the larger history of cultural and political factors that affect African-American burial history. Also, highlighting issues present at Eden (maintenance and lack of a complete historical record) in tandem with the research done on the evolution of black burial sites could provide an opportunity to gain more public attention for Eden. This could prove useful in efforts to amend Eden’s 2010 National Register of Historic Places Register Nomination and apply the cemetery for National Historic Landmark status.

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Suggested Citation: Caldwell, Charlette (2016). “Doin’ it Up Right”: Safeguarding the African-American Burial Landscape Through the Lens of Eden Cemetery. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.
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