Columbian Harmony and Payne Cemetery Ledgers, 1901-1959

Columbian Harmony and Payne Cemetery Ledgers, 1901-1959

Finding Aid

Collection No. 66 (16 Linear feet)
D.C. Community Archives


Paul E. Sluby Sr. donated this collection to the D.C. Community Archives in May 2006.  


The Columbian Harmony Cemetery was established as a resting ground for free blacks in Washington, D.C. Established by the Columbian Harmony Society in 1829, the cemetery was situated between Boundary Street (Florida Avenue), S Street, and 6th Street NW.

In 1848, the City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting new burial grounds in the city limits. Since the cemetery continued to expand it was relocated to land on Rhode Island Avenue and 9th Street NE in 1858 (at the time this was outside the city limits). In 1960, because of a lack of space and neglected care, the Harmony Cemetery (including the remains) was moved to Hyattsville, Md. and renamed the “National Harmony Memorial Park” (Sluby, Records of the Columbian…, v-vi).

Payne’s Cemetery was established prior to 1880 in Washington, D.C. The land was located at 4724 Benning Rd. SE and was used, primarily, as a burial place for African-Americans in the District. In 1961, Louis H. Bell purchased the property and attempted to disinter the remains from the cemetery. However, because of continuous neglect, many of the grave markers had been moved or destroyed.

In 1969, Mr. Bell had the remains moved to the National Harmony Memorial Park in Maryland. The land that was once Payne’s Cemetery is now in the use of Fletcher-Johnson Elementary School (Sluby, Records of Payne’s Cemetery, v-viii).

Scope and Content

The 10 ledgers were organized in chronological order based on the first entry in each book. Information found in the ledgers includes: name of deceased, plot location, and date of burial.

Related Materials

Sluby, Paul E., Sr. and Stanton L. Wormley, Jr., Records of the Columbian Harmony Cemetery. Columbian Harmony Society, 1994.
----, Records of Payne’s Cemetery. Columbian Harmony Society, 1991.


There are no restrictions on these records.

Box List

Box 1

  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: July 6, 1901-April 17, 1903

Box 2

  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: April 16, 1903-Dec. 31, 1904

Box 3

  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: Dec. 30, 1904-July 8, 1906

Box 4

  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: July 10, 1906-Sept. 30, 1912
  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: July 1, 1910-Sept. 30, 1914

Box 5

  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: Oct. 1, 1912-March 4, 1931

Box 6 

  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: March 25, 1931-Oct. 31, 1941
  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: Nov. 3, 1941-July 30, 1953

Box 7

  • Columbian Harmony Ledger: Aug. 25, 1953-Dec. 21, 1959

Box 8

  • Payne Cemetery Ledger: July 20, 1932-Feb. 20, 1952
Prepared by Ryan P. Semmes, May 2006

DC Public Library, Special Collections
D.C. Community Archives
901 G St. NW, Room 307
Washington, D.C.  20001

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