Jordan Butler

Date of Award


Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Academic Program

Anthropology BA


Anthropology and Sociology

First Advisor

Marie Elaine Danforth, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Anthropology and Sociology


The purpose of this study is to reconstruct the lives of three individuals buried in Cypress Grove Cemetery in New Orleans through osteobiographies, which combines knowledge gained from human remains, material culture, and mortuary practices. The opportunity for analysis arose since the vault was being demolished due to its dilapidated condition.

The individuals were White and of middle-class status and date to the later nineteenth century. One burial is a middle-aged man who was of average height and showed no evidence of pathology; his muscle markers do suggest he was relatively Physically active during his life. Another individual is an adolescent girl who was buried in an iron coffin and likely died from one of the many infectious diseases the city. She was small for her age and experienced multiple health disruptions earlier in her life. The last individual was highly fragmented but appears to be a middle-aged female of average height. Both Burials 1 and 2 displayed extensive caries resulting from the sweet carbohydrate-rich diet preferred by New Orleanians of the time. The material culture that was recovered from the grave vault included coffin hardware, such as swing-bail handles, thumbscrews, and highly decorative escutcheons. Apparel-related items were also recovered, including shell buttons, cloth, and a ribbon located in the hair of the teenage girl. Associated material culture as well as osteological indicators suggest that these individuals led a life typical of White middle-class citizens of New Orleans as now their stories can be told.