The Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery


For Immediate Release: Contact: Alexandria
May 24, 2007

Archaeologists Host Interpretive Tours of Rediscovered
Freedmen’s Cemetery in Alexandria

This summer Alexandria Archaeology will offer guided tours of the recently rediscovered Freedmen’s Cemetery in Old Town Alexandria. Tours are free and will be held at the site at South Washington and Church streets during the following dates and times:

Saturday, June 2, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, July 14, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Saturday, August 11, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m.

City archaeologists will give interpretive tours and on June 2, Field School students from The George Washington University will also be on hand to share and explain their discoveries. Space is limited and reservations can be made with Alexandria Archaeology at 703.838.4399.

Freedmen's Cemetery was established in 1864 after thousands of African Americans fled slavery and came to Union-occupied Alexandria seeking freedom. Without adequate shelter, food and medical care, they died at an alarming rate. The military authority overseeing Alexandria ordered that a cemetery be established, and over the next five years, approximately 1,800 people were buried there before the federal government abandoned the cemetery.

Over time the cemetery was forgotten, and in 1955, a gas station was built on the site. Local historians later discovered evidence of the cemetery through burial records and historical newspaper accounts, and when planning for the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge began, a citizen group, Friends of Freedmen's Cemetery, urged the City to research and preserve the site. A subsequent examination by archaeologists confirmed the existence of graves. The City recently acquired the property, demolished the buildings and rededicated the site as a cemetery.

Last week City archaeologists began their investigation to identify and preserve graves for the future creation of Alexandria Freedmen’s Memorial Park, due to open in 2010.

June 5th, 2007