The Heritage Center Hosts Free Public Lecture with MTSU alumnus and historian Leigh Ann Gardner

Mar 21, 2022 at 09:39 am by WGNS

Book by MTSU alumnus Leigh Ann Gardner

Murfreesboro, TN: The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County invites the public to join us on Thursday, March 31st, at 6 p.m. for a presentation and Q&A with MTSU alumnus Leigh Ann Gardner. She will discuss her newly released book, To Care for the Sick and Bury the Dead: African American Lodges and Cemeteries in Tennessee (2022).

Gardner received her Master of Arts in History with an emphasis in Public History from Middle Tennessee State University. She began researching African American sites while working for the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU, first as a graduate student and later as a staff member with the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area. Gardner has spent the last several years documenting African American benevolent societies and cemeteries across Tennessee and will discuss the history of these organizations as well as the sites that remain across the state’s landscape.

During their heyday between 1865-1930, African American lodges and mutual aid societies created a safety net for their members at a time when African Americans could not always gain access to insurance. These organizations provided opportunities to acquire sick benefits, burial insurance, and other financial support, as well as the chance for members to socialize and support their local communities and churches. Although many of these organizations have gradually faded from existence, their importance to African American history survives through the lodges and cemeteries that still anchor many communities today.



This event is free and open to the public, and will be held at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, 225 W. College Street, Murfreesboro, TN. For additional information, please call 615-217-8013 or 615-898-2947.

The Heritage Center is managed by the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area, a partnership unit of the National Park Service, and administered by the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation.

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