In order to understand African-American mortuary traditions, they must be contextualized within their chronological and cultural setting. Accordingly, we analyze burial practices in four types of communities: (1) enslaved communities on plantations,  (2) Free Black and post- bellum African-American neighborhoods, (3) post-1865 church burial grounds and attendant congregations, and (4) early twentieth-century public cemeteries, primarily associated with urban communities. The associated cemeteries can be classified as five primary types:

1. Slave Cemeteries (located on ante-bellum plantations)
2. Church Cemeteries
(founded after emancipation with the creation of formal African-American congregations)
3. Community or Neighborhood Cemeteries
(associated with ante-bellum Free Black communities and post-1865 African-American communities)
4. Public Cemeteries
(in the past, often segregated by race)
5. Family Cemeteries (usually located adjacent to a homestead that may or may not still be owned by the descendants)