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Conference Proceeding

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The Flat Rock community in southern DeKalb County, Georgia (just outside Atlanta) is one of the oldest continually-occupied African-American communities in Georgia. Although history shows that many African-American communities in the South were broken apart as former slaves migrated north in search of jobs and a more equitable life, Flat Rock remained an intact community. This was largely due to the efforts of individuals who were able to purchase land and later sell it in small parcels to fellow community members. Proximity—both to ancestors and significant places—is a cross-culturally important component to the creation of a sense of community. Placed on a high peak in DeKalb County, the Flat Rock Cemetery became such a place for the Flat Rock community. It contains burials dating from 1834 (three years prior to the official establishment of the community) through 1959. In the spring of 2008, Johnny Waits, president of the Flat Rock Archive, proposed a project to the members of the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society (GAAS) involving the clearing and mapping of this historic cemetery. These initial meetings eventually led to the involvement of Georgia State University (GSU). Through the use of a total station, Jeffrey Glover of GSU and his students have been mapping the cemetery and conducting research into its material culture. The objectives of this project, due to be completed in 2009, include completion of the cemetery map and the subsequent connection of identified graves to the archival data collected by Mr. Waits. These data will be integrated with photographic images of tombstones and material offerings, and will be established on GSU’s geospatial server using ESRI’s ArcServer. These interactive maps will be made accessible to visitors to the Flat Rock archive web site.


Originally published in:

Glover, Jeffrey B., Kathryn Jackson, and Johnny Waits*. Reclaiming a Sense of Place: Geospatial Technologies and the Flat Rock Cemetery Project in The Proceedings of the 37th Computer Applications in Archaeology Meetings, Williamsburg, VA, edited by Bernard Frischer, Jane W. Crawford, and David Koller, pp. 93-97. Archaeopress, UK, 2010.


Reproduced with permission of BAR Publishing.