Amelia Stieglitz, Anthropology, BMC ‘22

Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar

Faculty Advisor: Sylvia Houghteling & Monique Scott

Field Site: Arch Street Project – Rutgers University – Camden

Field Supervisor: Kimberlee Moran

Praxis Poster:

Amelia Stieglit_ Final Poster


Further Context:

For my praxis course, Museum Studies Fieldwork Seminar, I had the opportunity to work with the Arch Street Project. The Arch Street Project started in late 2016/early 2017 after human remains started turning up at a construction site at 218 Arch Street in Philadelphia. The medical examiners office was contacted anonymously by a worker who was concerned about continuing work with the presence of human remains. It was determined that the remains were archaeological in nature, as opposed to modern forensic remains, belonging to a burial ground associated with the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia from 1702 to 1859.

Salvage excavations soon took place to recover the remains and to continue with construction. Coffins with remains in them were taken to TCNJ, where internal excavations took place. The commingled or fragmentary remains, many of which were harmed by construction equipment, went to Rutgers University – Camden under the supervision of Kimberlee Moran, a professor and forensic archaeologists.

Every week on Wednesday’s and Friday’s, I went to Camden to accession the remains. The process of accessioning includes entering necessary information into a data base. Information includes the particular bone type, its completeness, the sex, the age, the ancestry, and any pathologies. Lastly, as the remains will be reburied, a quality photo is needed. Accessioning all the remains in this population allows for researchers to access data quickly and easily.

Working with human remains comes with many ethical problems, because in many cases, consent was not given. It is, therefore, imperative that the utmost respect is taken when handling the remains. These ethical problems led me to think about many questions relating to how I can honor these people in my work and why it is important that they be studied in the first place.