Skip to content

Woodland Cemetery Historic Preservation

Woodland Cemetery Policies

The Clemson University Board of Trustees oversees Woodland Cemetery. This page will be updated as the Board of Trustees publishes policies for Woodland Cemetery. Please check the Board of Trustees webpage for additional information.

oodland Cemetery entrance sign

Update as of October 21, 2022

    1. Background
      1. The Clemson Board of Trustees established the Woodland Cemetery in 1924 for the purpose of recognizing university faculty, administrators, and staff for their dedication and service to Clemson University.
      2. Since July 2020, a significant number of unmarked graves have been revealed in Woodland Cemetery with the assistance of advanced technologies, subject-matter experts, and review of historical records. The graves are believed to be those of African American enslaved persons (predating the university’s founding), sharecroppers, domestic workers, tenant farmers, convicted laborers, as well as wage workers and their families. Many of those interred in the unmarked graves are believed to have helped build, maintain, and contribute to the success of the university.
      3. The university has initiated steps to create a preservation plan that will document the history of the unmarked graves, the persons buried in them, and the contributions of those persons to the university.
    2. Purpose:
      1. The purpose of this Policy is to provide for the protection, honor, and respect of all those buried in areas of Woodland Cemetery.  
      2. This Policy also establishes the criteria for future interments at Woodland Cemetery.
      3. It is anticipated that additional plans and policies will be needed to address the historic preservation of the graves located in the historic burial ground.
    3. Authority:
      1. The Board of Trustees, in accordance with the Will of Thomas Green Clemson, retains “full authority and power to regulate all matters pertaining to” Clemson University.
      2. This policy affirms that the Board of Trustees retains full authority and power regarding all matters related to Woodland Cemetery, including the authority to make future modifications or exceptions to this policy, and is delegating certain duties to the Office of the Executive Secretary of the Board of Trustees (“Board Office”) as provided for herein.
      3. The Policy replaces the Woodland Cemetery Policy of October 18, 2013.

    4. Guiding Principles - Protection of Interments
      1. Existing interments in Woodland Cemetery from all eras will be preserved and should not be disturbed.
      2. All interments in Woodland Cemetery from all eras will be honored and respected.

    5. Future Interments
      1. Designation of Plots: The Board Office shall provide a designated plot location for the following persons, starting with Group 1 and proceeding through each group in order:
        1. Group 1: Family members of individuals already interred at Woodland Cemetery
          1. Companion Plots (2 person plots): When a spouse is already interred, the surviving spouse shall be provided a designated interment location immediately adjacent to, or as close as is reasonably possible to, the existing interment.
          2. Family Plots: When family members are already interred in a family plot, the Board Office shall determine the available space for future interments and, to the extent contact information is known, shall notify the surviving family members. The family shall notify the Board Office of those persons that desire interment in the available space in the family plot. To be interred in the family plot, one should typically be within the third degree of consanguinity (blood or adoption) or affinity (marriage), with the Board Office having discretion with respect to eligibility based on familial relationship.
        2. Group 2: Persons holding a designated plot location
          1. Usable Plot: Persons eligible under prior Woodland Cemetery policies and previously provided a designated plot location by the Board Office shall be permitted to use that designated plot for interment of themselves and their spouse if the Board Office determines that the plot is usable (e.g. not already in use, no trees in plot, etc.)
          2. Unusable Plot: Persons eligible under prior Woodland Cemetery policies and previously provided a designated plot location by the Board Office shall be provided a substitute plot designation for interment of themselves and their spouse if the Board Office determines that the original plot is not usable. The location of the substitute plot shall be at the discretion of the Board Office.  
          3. The Board Office will confirm for each holder of a designated plot number if the plot is usable for interment.
        3. Group 3: Persons holding a reservation
          1. Persons eligible under prior Woodland Cemetery policies that have previously been given a reservation or have a pending reservation request will be provided a designated plot location for themselves and their spouse.
          2. The location of the plot shall rest in the discretion of the Board Office.
        4. Persons that do not fall within Groups 1, 2, or 3 above are not eligible for interment in Woodland Cemetery.
        5. The Board Office will attempt to contact members of Groups 1, 2, and 3 to confirm their intent to be interred at Woodland Cemetery and their designated plot locations. If no contact or confirmation is possible after reasonable effort, the Board Office is authorized to cancel that person’s plot designation or reservation.
      2.  General
        1. No existing interments will be disturbed or moved to make space available for a future interment.
        2. Future interments should be done taking suitable precautions under the circumstances including, as appropriate, utilizing an archaeologist to monitor the opening of the gravesite and utilizing digging implements and techniques that allow for the opening to be monitored for possible disturbance of an existing burial.
        3. Clemson University makes no guarantee of eligibility, space, or location for interment at Woodland Cemetery.
        4. Clemson University reserves the right to alter eligibility requirements at any time, turn down a request for interment regardless of eligibility status, or revoke a reservation or unused plot designation, all in its sole discretion.
        5. No property interest in a plot location is conveyed and plots are not assignable or otherwise transferable.
        6. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, all interments are on an as-available basis; if space is not available for a person eligible for interment under this Policy, Clemson University shall be under no obligation to provide an alternative interment location.
        7. Some plots offered for interment may be cremation only plots.
        8. All interments shall comply with state and local laws.
        9. Failure to comply with this Policy may result in a No Trespass order and/or a requirement that improperly interred remains be removed at the expense of the funeral home or estate.
        10. Clemson University shall not be responsible for the cost of interment, additions, or adornments to the plots.
        11. A designated plot that is not used, as evidenced by interment at a location other than Woodland Cemetery, shall be forfeited.

    6. Delegation of Duties:
      1. The Board Office shall manage the administrative functions required for the implementation of this Policy.
      2. The Board Office is authorized to issue guidance and rules regarding:
        1. requests for and the conduct of interment at Woodland Cemetery;
        2. Woodland Cemetery operations, maintenance, and hours; and
        3. requirements and limitations for tombstones, markers, coping, vegetation, flowers, and other adornments associated with plots.
      3. The Board Office shall provide for the upkeep and maintenance of the grounds of Woodland Cemetery, seeking such approvals from the Board of Trustees as is required for capital projects.
      4. The Board Office shall prepare, and seek approval from the Board of Trustees, an annual budget for the maintenance and operations of Woodland Cemetery.
      5. The Board Office shall prepare an annual report for the Board of Trustees regarding cemetery operations, interments, maintenance, progress of capital projects, future needs, and anticipated budget needs.

    7. Versions

Date of Initial Board Approval: July 10, 1924
Amended by the Board: September 22, 1989
Amended by the Board: July 12, 1991
Amended by the Board: April 22, 2005
Amended by the Board: October 16, 2009
Amended by the Board:  October 18, 2013
Amended by the Board: October 21, 2022

We welcome your questions and thoughts by emailing or calling (864) 656-8719.