A Brief History of Collecting, Researching, and Displaying African American Human Remains in the United States

Samuel J. Redman, History

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Dozens of museums in the United States possess diverse collections of human remains. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, anthropologists and medical scientists collected, researched, and displayed human bodies in an effort to create and disseminate ideas about race and human history. In North America, the vast majority of human remains collected for natural history museums were American Indians, but a significant number of African American human remains were collected by anthropologists as well as scholars based in medical schools and societies. This paper explores the strange history of gathering, studying, and exhibiting African American human remains in the United States.

9/22/10 CRG Forum: Embodiments of Memory: African American Remains & Representations
"A Brief History of Collecting, Researching, and Displaying African American Human Remains in the United States," Samuel J. Redman, History

Dozens of museums in the United States possess diverse collections of human remains. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, anthropologists and medical scientists collected, researched, and displayed human bodies in an effort to create and disseminate ideas about race and human history. In North America, the vast majority of human remains collected for natural history museums were American Indians, but a significant number of African American human remains were collected by anthropologists as well as scholars based in medical schools and societies. This paper explores the strange history of gathering, studying, and exhibiting African American human remains in the United States.