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Sacred to the Memory

This portfolio documents abandoned, semi abandoned, and forgotten burial places in Shelby County, Tennessee. Many of these locations are not found on maps. Hence, this project has required extensive research in local archives to definitively locate the long-forgotten cemeteries. From there I create large scale photographs using a panoramic tripod head and a monolight.


This project sprung from a summer faculty research project concerning Memphis’ African American history. While conducting research I repeatedly found articles referencing burial places. But I couldn’t find most of them on maps. Naively believing that the location of cemeteries would be well documented, I went to the Shelby County Archives for a list. However, this trip revealed the surprising extent of the problem.  It became clear that there are over 100 abandoned cemeteries in Shelby County alone. Thus began my search for the dead.

In the past my work has examined racially charged social and political history via landscape photography. This project goes a step further capturing the last physical manifestations of the dead.


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