Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Chair

Marie Danforth

Committee Chair School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 2

Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 2 School

Social Science and Global Studies

Committee Member 3

Daniel LaDu

Committee Member 3 School

Social Science and Global Studies


Located in Perry County, Mississippi, the Anderson Family Cemetery represents an abandoned turn-of-the-century Piney Woods cemetery. The cemetery is located on land once owned by the Courtney and Anderson families, who farmed the area until it was taken under eminent domain by the United States government in 1942. The purpose of this thesis is to present three osteobiographies created from human remains and material culture recovered from three graves excavated from within the cemetery in 2022 to explore the lifeways of rural Piney Woods families of Mississippi at the turn-of-the-century.

Among the graves explored, one did not contain evidence of human remains. The remains from the other two graves were poorly preserved, making establishment of a detailed biological profile difficult. However, one individual was a middle-aged male, and deposits of barium were recovered in the burial fill. This is consistent with him being Elisha Anderson, the family patriarch who died of stomach cancer; the barium was possibly from an x-ray procedure. The other individual identified was a likely middle-aged female who had an extensive injury to both tibiae; she also wore dentures. Both individuals were quite tall. The material culture recovered included coffin hardware, such as bail handles, third generation thumb screws and escutcheons, and wire nails. Items of apparel were also found, including composition buttons, cuff studs, a cufflink, and a hair pin wrapped in hair and ribbon. Access to medical care and burial goods suggests that the Anderson family was not as poor as previously suspected.