The Life, Work, and Unmarked Burial of Sarah Parker Remond

Salon with Marilyn Richardson

Friday, August 5, 5:30 p.m.

Sarah Parker Remond (1826 (?)-94) was a Salem native, daughter of John and Nancy (Lenox) Remond, successful black business owners. She traveled in the U.S., England, and Europe speaking and raising funds for the American Anti-Slavery Society and became a medical doctor in Italy where she practiced for twenty years in Florence. For more information on Sarah Remond, see http://www.salemwomenshistory.com.

Marilyn Richardson, a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, has taught and lectured nationally and internationally on African-American cultural and intellectual history. A former Fellow of Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute and the DuBois Institute, her publications include BLACK WOMEN AND RELIGION (G.K. Hall) and MARIA W. STEWART: America’s First Black Woman Political Writer (Indiana University Press) along with numerous essays, articles and reviews.

She has taught at Harvard University, Boston University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is a former curator of Boston’s Museum of African American History and the African Meeting Houses on Beacon Hill and on Nantucket.

Richardson is the principal of ART + HISTORY CONSULTANTS providing programming, exhibitions, and research resources to a range of clients including schools, libraries, conferences, museums, auction houses and historical societies.

She is currently completing a book on 19th-century sculptor Edmonia Lewis. She is working to raise a fund to install a plaque in honor of Remond at the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome where her burial site is unmarked.

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The Protestant Cemetery
via Caio Cestio 6
06 57 41 900; http://www.protestantcemetery.it

One of the loveliest places in Rome is, believe it or not, a cemetery. The Cimitero Acattolicio goes by many names: the Non-Catholic Cemetery, the Protestant Cemetery, the English Cemetery. It dates from the end of the eighteenth century, when non-Catholics could not be buried within the city walls, and is next to the Pyramid of Caius Cestius, so it is easy to reach by metro (take it to the Pyramide stop).

Tall pines shade the beautiful garden, and part of its surrounding wall actually runs into the pyramid. Friendly, well-fed cats that freely roam the grounds are taken care of by kindly English-speaking ladies who are always willing to give directions to the final resting places of luminaries.

John Keats lies there, and nearby is Percy Bysshe Shelley, and right next to him is the American Beat poet Gregory Corso. You can also find John Addington Symonds; Richard Henry Dana, Jr., the American author of Two Years Before the Mast; Antonio Gramsci, a founding member and leader of the Italian Communist Party; and Gottfried Semper, the great German architect of the Dresden opera house (the Semperoper) and Vienna’s Museum of Art History, Natural History Museum, and Municipal Theater (the Burgtheater), and the redesign of the Ringstrasse.

Not far from him is William Rutherford Mead, president of the American Academy in Rome until his death in 1928, and partner in the legendary American architecture firm of McKim, Mead, and White, architects of the Academy. Henry James loved “the little Protestant cemetery,” and wrote in Italian Hours “Nothing could be more impenetrably tranquil than this little corner . . . where a cluster of modern ashes is held tenderly in the rugged hand of the past.”

                                                                               — David Morton

David Morton is the Associate Publisher for Architecture at Rizzoli International. He is the recipient of several Literary Marketplace Awards and the Henry Hope Reed Award, and his books have received numerous awards from the American Institute of Architects.

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