Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Shannon A. Novak
19th Century, Abolition, Bioarchaeology, Childhood, New York City, Subadult
Social and Behavioral Sciences
This dissertation examines the skeletal remains of 75 children interred the burial vaults (1820-1846) of the 19th century Spring Street Presbyterian Church in lower Manhattan. New York City and the 8th Ward neighborhood of the church were rapidly urbanizing and diversifying in the early 19th century. These changes affected how children lived and grew. Family life, institutional involvement, and the city itself are considered as structuring forces that helped shape the skeletal remains of the children that did not survive. This dissertation combines historical data, theoretical models of embodiment and agency, and skeletal data to reconstruct their experiences of growing up in a rapidly changing cityscape. In particular, trends in health, diet, and trauma are noted. These trends are established first for sub-groupings of children based on cultural defined age stages, and then combined to examine the life course. This project is therefore a theoretical microhistory of childhood, a novel approach to discussing the bodies of children in the past.
Ellis, Meredith Alyson Berman, "The Children of Spring Street: The Remains of Childhood in a Nineteenth Century Abolitionist Congregation" (2014). Dissertations - ALL. 48.