Newport, Brown University researchers team up to map historic African-American burying ground

Advanced Digital Mapping Project to Focus on God’s Little Acre

Photo provided by City of Newport

The City of Newport announced today that God’s Little Acre, one of America’s largest and most intact burial sites for colonial era Africans and African-Americans, may soon be more easily navigable thanks to the efforts of a team from Brown University. 

The City’s Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission announced on Monday that work is underway on a project to create a high-resolution digital map of the historic site, which could serve as the foundation for future site management and exploration.

Once complete, visitors, scholars, and site managers will be able to access pertinent information from an advanced digital map of the area via smartphone or the Internet that researchers hope will provide the public a better understanding and deeper appreciation for the historic burying ground.

“We’ve very excited to partner with this talented team from Brown,” said Janet Parkinson of the Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission in a prepared statement. “Having an accessible digital map of God’s Little Acre will be a significant milestone for future work.”

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The project is being conducted by Alex Marko, Dan Plekhov, and Miriam Rothenberg, all PhD candidates at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown University. The team was recruited by Giles Eyre, who has working with the City’s Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission. There is no cost to the City for the work the students will be conducting and their products will be given to the City at no charge.

One goal is for visitors to the site to use their phones to guide them directly to a stone they wish to visit, while preservationists are hopeful that the map will provide the City with another tool in tracking gravestone conservation.

Once complete, the map will be accessible via the web portal, databases, and smartphones to allow a variety of information sharing. 

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