Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Shannon Novak


Abolition;GIS;Mortuary ideology and practice;New York City;Nineteenth century;Social sciences


This dissertation is an archaeological investigation of the burial vault complex (1820-1849) associated with the historical Spring Street Presbyterian Church, formerly located on the corner of Spring and Varick Streets in Lower Manhattan. Tacking between the realms of Life and Death, this project applies name and address data sourced from historical documents and the mortuary artifacts buried within the vaults to trace and place the lives of the interred individuals across the landscape of 19th century Manhattan. Using a geographical information system, this dissertation engages with theories of landscape, life and death course through such concepts as urbanization, scapes, and mortuary practice to address the movements of the population buried within the Spring Street vaults across space and time. By removing these individuals from their resting place within the Spring Street burial vaults and re-placing them within the landscape of Lower Manhattan, this dissertation is an inquiry into how large-scale contextual processes and local events were experienced at the level of the individual during their lives, tracing them until they once again arrive at the singular and shared location of the Spring Street vaults following their deaths.


Open Access