Located less than a mile from downtown Atlanta, Oakland Cemetery provides the full scope of Atlanta's rich and fascinating history.
Established in 1850, Oakland Cemetery is Atlanta's oldest cemetery and features 48 acres of history, Victorian gardens, wildlife, sculptures, and statuary. The cemetery welcomes more than 40,000 visitors annually from around the world and offers weekly guided tours, seasonal special events as well as private events.
Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 70,000 people, from historical figures to ordinary citizens. Noted residents include Gone with the Wind author Margaret Mitchell, six Georgia governors, 27 Atlanta mayors including Maynard H. Jackson and Ivan Allen, Jr., many military notables, civil rights leaders, and more.
During Georgia Gives Day Historic Oakland Foundation’s goal is to raise $5,000
to restore the 3.5-acre African American Grounds area.
Oakland Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 70,000 people, several thousands of whom are of African American descent. In 1852 the Atlanta City Council ruled that people of color were to be buried separately from whites, in public grounds on the eastern boundary of the cemetery’s Original Six Acres. This section was known as “Slave Square,” and by the beginning of the Civil War held the remains of more than 800 people. In 1866 the city designated three acres of another section in Oakland Cemetery for African American burials only. In 1877 the remains of those buried in Slave Square were exhumed and reburied in another section of Oakland Cemetery (“the colored pauper grounds.”)
Oakland’s African American Grounds is the final resting place for entrepreneurs, educators, ministers, physicians, and many other prominent citizens who helped to shape the city’s history – as well as ordinary citizens. This area’s notable burials include:
Bishop Wesley John Gaines: A former slave, second pastor of Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and founder of Morris Brown College.
Carrie Steele Logan: A former slave who established the first African American orphanage (The Carrie Steele-Pitts Home) in Atlanta.
Reverend Frank Quarles: Pastor of Friendship Baptist Church from 1866-1881. Instrumental in bringing the Augusta Institute (now Morehouse College) to Atlanta and in the founding of Spelman College.
Selena Sloan Butler: A Georgia Woman of Achievement and founder of the country’s first Parent Teacher Association for African American children.
Historic African American burial traditions utilized natural markers like wood, shrubbery, or flowers, which have been lost through the passage of time. Therefore, much of this section of Oakland Cemetery is bereft of headstones or other visual markers. To determine what lies beneath, HOF partnered with Atlanta-based remote sensing firm Bigman Geophysical in 2016 for a technologically-advanced survey of the three acres comprising Oakland’s African American Grounds. The survey results found some 872 probable unmarked burials in the section.
This is a truly unique opportunity for investment in Atlanta’s past and future and we are excited to begin this new project. Financial support from donors like you will make it possible to properly honor these pioneering citizens.