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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Researching the Early History of Black Lives in the Connecticut River Valley


While the graves of African Americans who died in the 17th and 18th centuries are less likely to be marked with headstones than White members of Valley communities, those numbers rose in the 19th century, and it is possible to find graves that fill in the picture of Black Valley residents in life and in death

Gravestone inscriptions provide birth and death information and offer family relationship clues. However, as primary sources, gravestone inscriptions can contain errors. Genealogical and historical societies and various individuals have transcribed and published cemetery inscriptions. The Systematic Series of Massachusetts vital records relied on information from headstones and other sources. Printed town records and histories sometimes contain epitaphs. Tombstone decorations offer insight into the deceased's economic status, occupation, religious affiliation, interests, and organizational memberships.

There are also a growing number of online cemetery projects; see for example, on Hartford, Connecticut, the resource  “Uncovering Their History,”

Selective List of Materials in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library

Ancient burying-grounds of the Town of Waterbury, Connecticut, together with other records of church and town - Prichard, Katharine A. 
Call Number: F 104 W3 P7

Burial grounds of Vermont 
Call Number: F 50 B87 1991

The colonial burying grounds of eastern Connecticut and the men who made them - Slater, James A. 
Call Number: NB 1856 C66 S58 1987

Granite laughter and marble tears; epitaphs of old New England - Pike, Robert E. 
Call Number: PN 6291 P5

Gravestones of early New England and the men who made them, 1653-1800 - Forbes, Harriette Merrifield 
Call Number: NB 1855 F6

Middletown Springs and Ira cemetery inscriptions, Rutland County, Vermont - Jenks, Margaret R. 
Call Number: F 59 M62 J46 1983

New England cemeteries: a collector's guide - Kull, Andrew 
Call Number: F 5 K84

Northern New Hampshire graveyards and cemeteries: transcriptions and indexes of burial sites in the towns of Clarksville, Colebrook, Columbia, Dixville, Pittsburg, Stewartstown, and Stratford - Dodge, Nancy L. 
Call Number: F 33 D63 1985

Papers of the New Haven Colony Historical Society - New Haven Colony Historical Society 
Call Number: F 98 N5 Volumes 1-10
Volume 3 Inscriptions on tombstones in New Haven prior to 1800 
Volume 4 Inscriptions on tombstones in Guilford erected prior to 1800
Volume 5 Inscriptions on Milford tombstones
Volume 6 Supplement to Guilford tombstone inscriptions
              Inscriptions on tombstones in Madison erected prior to 1800
Volume 8 Inscriptions on tombstones in New Haven prior to 1800
Volume 10 Grove Street Cemetery

The stone records of Groton - Caulkins, Frances Manwaring 
Call Number: F 104 G84 C37

Westbrook, Maine cemeteries: plus the surrounding towns of Cumberland, Falmouth, Gorham, Portland & Windham - Ketover, Karen Sherman, Call Number: F 29 W6 K47 1996

Find More

Search the Five College Catalog by Subject. Examples of subject searches:

  • Cemeteries - Maine - North Yarmouth
  • Epitaphs - New England
  • Sepulchral monuments - New England