Reading the Bodies of Spring Street: The Bioarchaeology of Nineteenth Century New York City

Meredith Ellis
Current Events

Course Description

This course will discuss the discovery, excavation, and analysis of the skeletal remains of some 200 men, women, and children from the burial vaults of the early 19th century Spring Street Presbyterian Church in Lower Manhattan. The bodies were accidentally discovered under a parking lot in 2006 during the construction of what would become Trump SoHo. After their removal in the winter of 2006-2007, seven years of analysis took place at Syracuse University. During that time, researchers worked to learn what life was like for those who attended the church. The church, a radical abolitionist congregation in the rapidly urbanizing Manhattan, was a fascinating intersection of political ideology, racial integration, and changing social and economic landscapes. The skeletons tell us about how those wider changes in New York City’s history impacted the lives and health of the everyday people who walked the city’s streets. Through a lecture accompanied by PowerPoint slides with plenty of images of skeletons and archival documents, as well as a handout, this presentation will tell some of the stories of the fascinating people who were buried during this snapshot of time in New York City’s history.

About the Instructor

  • Meredith Ellis, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Biological Anthropology at FAU. She has a PhD in Anthropology (2014) from Syracuse University, as well as an MA in Anthropology (2011) and an MA in English Language and Literature (2005) from the University of Rochester. She is a bioarchaeologist who specializes in theoretical approaches to understanding the past through skeletal remains, particularly the remains of sub-adults (children), and remains from the 19th century U.S. She has worked on multiple collections, including the Spring Street Presbyterian Church site, and the Donner Party Alder Creek campsite. She is the author of the 2019 book, The Children of Spring Street: The Bioarchaeology of Childhood in a Nineteenth Century Abolitionist Congregation (Springer Press)and the coeditor of the 2018 book Nineteenth Century Childhoods in Interdisciplinary and International Perspectives (Oxbow Books).

Upcoming programs presented by Meredith Ellis.

TypeNumberInstructorCourse TitleAdd to Cart
One-Time WPL01063D Meredith Ellis Reading the Bodies of Spring Street: The Bioarchaeology of Nineteenth Century New York City
Monday, January 6: 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm