From the 1830s to around 1880, the Catholic community of Dubuque, Iowa, interred their dead in the Third Street Cemetery, which was situated on a high bluff overlooking the town and the Mississippi River to the east. In the twentieth century, the unmarked and forgotten burial ground was inadvertently disturbed by construction several times, and eventually over 900 graves were excavated by Office of the State Archaeologist (OSA) staff between 2007 and 2011. Thorough analyses of the human remains and artifacts from the graveyard were conducted at the OSA before the materials were reburied in a newer Catholic cemetery in 2013.
Data collected during the original Third Street Cemetery project are now being used to investigate a specific subset of the burial population—the adolescents. This new research project examines both mortality patterns and mortuary treatment at the Third Street Cemetery and highlights differences between the adolescents and other age groups from the burial ground. Skeletal evidence of disease and trauma, historic death records, and the remnants of coffin hardware, burial clothing, religious objects, and nonreligious grave goods are used to explore the health and mortality of Dubuque’s nineteenth-century residents and their changing views of death and the afterlife. Eventually, these results will be compared with those from ten additional nineteenth-century cemeteries as part of a PhD dissertation.
About the presenter:
After obtaining a BA in History and Art History from Emory University in 1996, Jennifer Mack worked as a field archaeologist for six years. From 2004-2005, she received additional training in Human Osteology at the University of West Florida. She has specialized in mortuary archaeology since 2007, and has worked for the OSA off and on since 2008. The book she co-authored with Robin Lillie, Dubuque's Forgotten Cemetery: Excavating a Nineteenth-century Burial Ground in a Twenty-first-century City, received the 2017 James Deetz book award presented by the Society for Historical Archaeology. Jennifer is currently pursuing a PhD through the University of Exeter.
About the event:
Brown Bags at the OSA is a semi-regular series where staff and guests share their research over the noon hour. Topics include individuals’ areas of interest, work in the field, developments in archaeology and architectural history throughout Iowa and the Midwest. Guest speakers whose expertise is in other areas pertaining to archaeology or ethnohistory may be invited throughout the year as well. For more information please go to http://archaeology.uiowa.edu, contact Maria Schroeder at the Office of the State Archaeologist; firstname.lastname@example.org; (319)384-0974.
These presentations are free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to engage in discussion and exchange following the presentation. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Office of the State Archaeologist in advance at (319) 384-0732.