© 2017

The Bioarchaeology of Dissection and Autopsy in the United States

  • Kenneth C. Nystrom

Part of the Bioarchaeology and Social Theory book series (BST)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Kenneth C. Nystrom
    Pages 1-22
  3. Evidence from Early Colonial America

  4. Evidence from Public Cemeteries

  5. Evidence from Medical Institutions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 113-113
    2. Christina J. Hodge, Jane Lyden Rousseau, Michèle E. Morgan
      Pages 115-142
    3. Douglas W. Owsley, Karin S. Bruwelheide, Richard L. Jantz, Jodi L. Koste, Merry Outlaw
      Pages 143-164
    4. Jennifer L. Muller, Kristen E. Pearlstein, Carlina de la Cova
      Pages 185-201
  6. Evidence from Almshouse Cemeteries

About this book


Encountering evidence of postmortem examinations - dissection or autopsy- in historic skeletal collections is relatively rare, but recently there has been an increase in the number of reported instances. The Bioarchaeology of Dissection and Autopsy brings together in a single volume the skeletal evidence of postmortem examination in the United States. Ranging from the early colonial period to the early 1900’s, from a coffeehouse at Colonial Williamsburg to a Quaker burial vault in lower Manhattan, the contributions to this volume demonstrate the interpretive significance of a historically and theoretically contextualized bioarchaeology. The authors employ a wide range of perspectives, demonstrating how bioarchaeological evidence can be used to address a wide range of themes including social identity and marginalization, racialization, the nature of the body and fragmentation, and the emergence of medical practice and authority in the United States.


Early evidence of dissection and autopsy Evidence from medical institutions and Almshouse cemeteries History of postmortem examinations in the United States Medical education and the utilization of cadavers Postmortem examinations and social identity Skeletal evidence of dissection and autopsy

Editors and affiliations

  • Kenneth C. Nystrom
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyState University of New York at New PaltzNew PaltzUSA

About the editors

Kenneth Nystrom is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the State University of New York at New Paltz, USA.  He received his B.A. from the University of Minnesota-Duluth (1997), and his M.S. (1999) and Ph.D. (2005) from the University of New Mexico. He would characterize himself as a broadly trained bioarchaeologist. His early research focused on the Chachapoya of northern Perú where he investigated a range of topics including the reconstruction of mortuary behavior based on paleoentomology, trepanation and trauma, and the impact of Inca conquest on site-specific and regional-level genetic homogeneity using craniometrics. He has also conducted research on long bone cross-sectional geometry in Early Classic elites from Copan, Honduras and post-marital residence patterns among the Chiribaya of southern Perú utilizing craniometrics. His current focus is on African American and almshouse cemeteries from the 19th and 20th centuries in the United States. He grounds his research in the understanding that the biological and social world in which we live is incorporated into and onto our bodies. From this perspective he has examined dental health, trauma, and sex-specific post-manumission migration using strontium isotopes in a historic African American cemetery from New York. Additionally, he considered how the postmortem examination of a young woman from this cemetery can inform on our understanding of how social identity of African Americans was constructed during the 19th century. He is currently analyzing evidence of dissection and surgical experimentation from the Erie County Poorhouse from this same perspective.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title The Bioarchaeology of Dissection and Autopsy in the United States
  • Editors Kenneth C. Nystrom
  • Series Title Bioarchaeology and Social Theory
  • Series Abbreviated Title Bioarch. Soc. Theo.
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences Social Sciences (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-319-26834-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-319-80023-3
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-319-26836-1
  • Series ISSN 2567-6776
  • Series E-ISSN 2567-6814
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIX, 346
  • Number of Illustrations 33 b/w illustrations, 66 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Archaeology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site