Mortuary anthropology: The potential of historic research within an historic cemetery

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Reed, Shannon Dee
Moore-Jansen, Peer H.

Biological data is traditionally derived from cemetery excavations and documents a physical representation of the sample community being investigated. Further documentation using mortuary data including archival records, physical placement, date of birth and death, occupation, and more represent social demographics within a skeletal population. These types of information can complement significant components to the biological record. A study of demographic patterns based on cemetery records will be studied and analyzed in a non-invasive context using the detailed records of different cemetery associations. Using the historic records in conjunction with ArcGIS mapping to establish connections between individuals within a cemetery, a visual representation of the skeletal population can be demonstrated, as well as connections to manners of death and tracing pandemic or epidemic disease outbreaks outside of those communities in further studies. The expressions of influenza, tuberculosis, and typhoid within the Historic Topeka Cemetery's records during 1895-1920 illustrate the comparability to that of state and national recordings. The records from the Historic Topeka Cemetery illustrated influenza and tuberculosis and both followed the national and state trends recorded from standard historic documents. Typhoid was not expressed similarly, as Topeka enacted many different measures against communicable diseases during this time, including chlorination, water treatment, and hygienic regulations. As a result of this study, defined patterns of disease can be compared between recorded disease arrays and historic records which could be examined in further studies.

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Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Anthropology