Mortuary Mapping has officially launched! To say that this project is near and dear to my heart would be an understatement. I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Historic Cemetery project since early in the excavation phase. I worked as an osteologist, excavating and analyzing remains for a total of five months in 2012 and 2013. This site will also be the focus of my dissertation, where I will examine the health and nutrition of the individuals buried there.
The SCVMC historic cemetery, located in San Jose California, was in use from approximately 1875-1935. In 2012 hospital related construction impacted the cemetery. Unfortunately the construction plans could not be modified, so 1,004 individual were exhumed. Archaeologists and osteologists from URS Inc, D&D Osteology, and Foothill College worked for a year and a half to respectfully document and remove these individuals, and any artifacts associated with them. The skeletal material and artifacts are being curated at California State University, Chico for study over the next ten years. After the research is completed, the remains will be cremated and reburied.
The background information and maps provided on this site are but a small part of a large project that will take many years to complete. I wanted to create this site not only to allow a larger section of the public to interact with the cemetery, but to create a space for researchers to share their findings. The maps are interactive, the user has the ability to zoom, move the map, and clicking on individual burials brings up a pop-up with more information. The information is currently limited to age, sex, and a button pattern project I worked on this year. As research continues, this portion of the website will expand.
I also choose the site name, Mortuary Mapping, to allow for future collaboration with other cemetery projects. Engaging with the public is an incredibly important part of being not only a good scholar, but also a good archaeologist. Accountability, as well as public education and outreach are integral parts of archaeological ethics. This cemetery is not only a part of San Jose’s past, but represents an important time period in American history.
Please explore the site, and let me know if you have any questions/suggestions or run into any issues.