TCNJ Magazine Fall 2019

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37 FALL 2019 yellow fever burials. As Beatrice examines the bones, real lives emerge: he's found one skeleton showing evidence of African ancestry; another has distinct groove marks in the teeth that point to a man who loved his pipe; and there is evidence of osteoarthritis, infected bones, and a probable case of congenital syphilis. "Imagine these lives and what they lived with," he says. "I would just love to meet one of these people in person and talk to them about that, but I get snippets of it and that's what's so special to me." To tackle the artifacts, Leader turned a win- dowless TCNJ room into a makeshift lab where he and students research the economic, cultural, and religious significance of the found items, including burial shrouds, buttons, and coffin nameplates. One bit of sleuthing about the coffin handles has already yielded rewards. After Leader came across a reference to a coffin hardware catalog published in 1783, he located a copy in London's Victoria and Albert Museum archives. When Dhody, his Arch Street colleague, traveled there last summer, she photographed each page for him. remains," Leader says. Comparing the catalog to the artifacts at TCNJ, Leader realized some had been made in London. The discovery is helping him understand pre-revolutionary and post-Colonial trade relationships between the U.S. and England. "That was a really cool aha moment," he says. "And I've had those with my students, too, when they run data and figure something out. Seeing them have those moments on their own is really rewarding." As he spoke, Kiira Jeffers '20 was one of several students scrubbing sediment-choked bones with soft bristle toothbrushes in a biology lab across campus. Beyond the room lay blue sky and sunshine, but Jeffers was happy to spend the day inside. Genevieve Duran '20 and William Russo '20 work alongside professor Jared Beatrice. like investigating your own history as a country." He is compiling biological profiles for each set of remains, a process involving the painstaking measurements, mapping, and analysis of each bone to determine sex, height, ancestry, and age at the time of death. He's also studying the bones for evidence of disease and, from this, gathering health and nutrition data that will help build a fuller picture of individual lives at the time. Details about the cemetery are slowly coming to light, including that it hosted three waves of LAUREN ADAMS

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