Lynn Rainville is an author, speaker, and public historian who studies ordinary Virginians doing extraordinary things in the past.

After earning a PhD in Near Eastern Archaeology, she spent two decades studying historic cemeteries, gravestones, enslaved communities and their descendants, town poor farms, and Virginia’s role in World War I.

Today, Lynn tells the stories of exceptional Virginians whose names never made it to the history books.  By combining archaeological, ethnographic, and historical sources, she uncovers lost sites and forgotten heroes from hometowns across the state.

Her talks, books, articles, and exhibits have been featured in dozens of national newspapers, local publications, and television and radio shows. Click here to read this Press Coverage.

Gazette1A brief history of Dr. Rainville:

  • In 1990, she began researching historic American graveyards, with a more recent emphasis on slave cemeteries and historic black burial grounds.
  • In 1995, she began excavating ancient Mesopotamian sites in Turkey; a couple years later, she developed a new method for studying everyday life in Assyrian households.
  • In 2001, she began teaching anthropology and archaeology courses at Sweet Briar College. For a list of courses that she has taught, click here.
  • In 2008, she was appointed the founding director of the Tusculum Institute for public history and historic preservation.
  • In 2018, she was appointed the Dean of the College at Sweet Briar.
  • In 2019, she was selected as the inaugural Director of Institutional History at Washington and Lee University. Read more.

For a complete list of Dr. Rainville’s work and appointments, click here to download her resume.