Chapel Hill Cemetery Archival Collection
(1939-2005, bulk 1970s to 2000s)
[Click here to download a PDF version of the finding aid]
Title: Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery and Old Chapel Hill Cemetery Archival Collection (1939-2005, bulk 1970s to 2000s)
Creator: Town of Chapel Hill
Extent: One archival box, one oversize box, and CDs
Repositories: Files are available at Parks & Recreation Administrative Building, 200 Plant Rd.
Access Restrictions: Materials must be used on-site. To access these files, please contact P & R Interim Director Linda Smith to schedule a meeting for your viewing as well as arrange copies for your use if needed.
Use Restrictions: Some materials in the collection may be subject to copyright restrictions by individuals or institutions other than the Town of Chapel Hill.
Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Old Chapel Hill Cemetery Archival Collection, Town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Provenance: Several files were given to the Town by David and Terry Swanson; the remaining files were generated by the Town’s Public Works and Engineering Departments.
Processing Information: The collection was processed in 2006 by UNC-CH graduate student Michelle Belden, under the supervision of Emily Cameron (Public Works) and Ernie Rogers (Engineering). The folder arrangement reflects, whenever possible, the original order of documents as kept by the Town of Chapel Hill. However, duplicate documents and documents, not of enduring historical value have been weeded, and documents retained have been ordered by date, title, or surname as deemed appropriate and as noted in the inventory below.
Related Materials: Informational Web pages about the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery can be found on the Town of Chapel Hill’s website.
The following text is excerpted from the Town of Chapel Hill’s application for inclusion of the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places and encapsulates the historical significance of the cemetery.
Because of the University’s preeminent position as the first public university opened in the United States and the major public institution of higher learning in North Carolina, the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery has one of the most distinguished groups of individuals of the statewide and local significance of any cemetery in North Carolina. Among those buried there are eminent educators, mathematicians, physicians, engineers, geologists, philosophers, literary figures, and dramatists. Burials of much-beloved Chapel Hill townspeople, men and women, white and black, who operated popular hotels, boarding houses, restaurants, served in town government, and were public policy crusaders, are present there also, and have local significance…
The Old Chapel Hill Cemetery is eligible for the National Register under Criterion C for its distinctive collection of nineteenth-century monuments that reflect the craftsmanship of both known and anonymous stonecutters of North Carolina and other states, including George Lauder and Maunder & Campbell of Raleigh. The cemetery contains examples of ornate headstones, tomb-tables, and obelisks favored by affluent whites, as well as uninscribed fieldstones and modestly stylish headstones of local brownstone erected for slaves and possibly free blacks who were part of the university community. In addition, the low stone or brick borders and ornate cast-iron fences that enclose a number of the family plots and the plots of the Dialectic Society and the Philanthropic Society are characteristic of elite antebellum cemeteries in North Carolina.
Photos of Families plots:
****These records were updated in 2015 and can also be accessed at the Chapel Hill Library Historical Society.