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Woodland Cemetery Historic Preservation

About Woodland Cemetery Historic Preservation


The Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project was formed in the summer of 2020 following the recovery of unmarked graves in Woodland Cemetery. By early 2021, ground penetrating radar (GPR) identified more than 500 unknown graves, believed to belong to African and African American enslaved persons, sharecroppers, tenant farmers, domestic laborers, convicted laborers, as well as wage workers and their families. As we learn more about who might be buried in these graves, the preservation project is also working to research, memorialize, and share the full history of Woodland Cemetery, which was established in 1924 for white employees of Clemson and their immediate families by the Clemson Board of Trustees at the behest of President Walter Riggs.

The interdisciplinary project team consists of Clemson University faculty, students, and staff; local community leaders and public history professionals; and a Task Force and Legacy Council appointed by the Clemson Board of Trustees. The team is also supported by several offices on the Clemson campus. Additionally, the team brings in expert consultants from around the nation to offer guidance on this project.

View of white flags showing placement of unmarked graves in Woodland cemetery

Project Team

Research and Community Engagement Team

Telling an accurate history of the African American Burial Ground and Woodland Cemetery involves diligent and thorough historical research and outreach. The research and community engagement team works in libraries, archives, and in local communities to research important documents, listen to oral histories, and help recover the stories of individuals and families who may be buried at the site. The team also works to engage the public in these research, restoration, and preservation efforts.

Dr. Rhondda Thomas, Calhoun Lemon Professor of Literature, Call My Name Faculty Director, and Coordinator of Research and Community Engagement for the Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project

Dr. Mandi Barnard, Research Historian

Marjorie Campbell, Project Manager

Dr. Sara Collini, Postdoctoral Fellow in University History

Marquise Drayton, Community Engagement Assistant

Amanda Hartman, Graduate Research Assistant

Anthony Herrera, Cemetery Superintendent

Dr. David Markus, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice

Ka'tia Reyes, Undergraduate Communications Assistant

Deborah Robinson, Genealogist

Alexis Thomas, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Undergraduate Student Researchers, Creative Inquiry in History: The Woodland Cemetery Preservation and Memorial Project HIST 3890 Fall 2023: Charlotte Ackley, Taemaisha Collins, William Goldstein, Julia Grant, Ella Johnson, Mya Kowalke, Emma Lerner, Violet Lorei, Lauren Magnani, Mattison Strom

Community Engagement Council

Collaboration and partnership with the African American communities surrounding Clemson University is essential. Community leaders from the four local areas surrounding Clemson, including Anderson, Clemson-Central, Pendleton, and Oconee County, advise on local research, community outreach, and preservation and memorialization plans for the African American Burial Ground.


J. T. Boseman

Jack Henderson

Nekaun Swinger

Dr. Beatrice Thompson


Rosa Grayden

Dalphene Jameson

Pastor Zackary Johnson

Oconee County

Shelby Henderson

Kathy Jenkins

Helen Rosemond-Saunders


Terence Hassan

Clemson University Board of Trustees Task Force

The Clemson Board of Trustees appointed a Task Force to develop a preservation plan for the burial ground.

David Dukes, Chair

Dr. Louis Lynn

Kim Wilkerson

Legacy Council

The Legacy Council, appointed by the Task Force, assists with the development of the preservation plan and with community engagement.

President Emeritus James F. Barker

Dr. James Bostic Jr.

David Dukes

Dr. Rhondda Thomas

Project Affiliates

Several people and organizations across campus, South Carolina, and the nation also contribute to this project by providing scientific and historical research, expert consulting, and advising. Their support is invaluable to the project.

Call My Name Project

Dr. Joshua Catalano, Assistant Professor of History and Coordinator of the Public History Emphasis Area at Clemson University

Clemson Architecture Working Group for Woodland Cemetery and the African American Burial Ground

Clemson University Facilities

Clemson University Special Collections and Archives

Creative Inquiry + Undergraduate Research at Clemson University

New South Associates, Archaeology Survey and Preservation Plan Development

Preservation South and Summit Engineering, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) Survey

Dr. Michael Blakey, NEH Professor of Anthropology, Africana Studies, and American Studies and Founding Director of the Institute for Historical Biology at the College of William & Mary

Dr. Lawrence Conyers, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Denver

Chris Judge, Director of the Native American Studies Center at USC Lancaster

Dr. Lynn Rainville, Director of Institutional History and the Museums at Washington and Lee University

Project Alumni

Dr. Paul Anderson, Former University Historian at Clemson University

Alleyia Bailey, Former Undergraduate Research Assistant

Marissa Davis, Former Graduate Research Assistant

Lucas DeBenedetti, Former Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jessica Foster, Former Graduate Research Assistant

Aundrea Gibbons, Former Undergraduate Community Engagement Assistant

Dr. La'Neice Littleton, Former Postdoctoral Fellow in Public Humanities and African American Life at Clemson University

Dr. Brian Stack, Former Community Engagement Assistant

Nolly Swan, Former Undergraduate Research Assistant

Harolyn Williams, Former Graduate Research Intern

Former Undergraduate Student Researchers, Creative Inquiry in History: The Woodland Cemetery Preservation and Memorial Project HIST 3890: Gillian Barnard, Beau Clardy, Lucas DeBenedetti, Virginia Edlund, Bryanna Grayson, Maddie Hund, Aimey Jimm, Jermaine Johnson, Ollie Joye, Demetra Karres, Rose Keller, Katie McDowell, Janet McNeil, Derrick Phillips, Matthew Sloop, Hannah Sparks, Abbigayle Stewart, Destiny Stewart, Nolly Swan, Alexis Thomas, Robin Urban, Dr. Jody Usher, and Rebecca White

The Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project
The Woodland Cemetery and African American Burial Ground Historic Preservation Project | The cemetery is located on Woodland Drive at the intersection of Williamson Road and S. Palmetto Boulevard on the Clemson University campus. The team's offices are located in Suite 220 in Sirrine Hall.