Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery by Lois Miner Huey

Published by Millbrook Press


Summary: When construction workers near Albany, New York, dug up a human skull, police, town officials, and archaeologists were all called in. The skull was determined to be over a century old.  Construction was halted, and an archaeological site was set up.  More skeletons were found, indicating a cemetery had been there.  Since there were no markers and it was far away from the main house of the farm that had been there in the 1800’s, the archaeologists were fairly certain it had been a slave cemetery.  This book looks at how scientists, historians, and artists worked together to learn the history of the people who had been buried there, as well as in two other slave cemeteries in New York City and Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  Using clues from the bones, DNA, and artifacts found on or near the bodies, much could be learned about the people, where they came from, what their lives were like, and even what their faces looked like.  Back matter includes an author’s note, glossary, bibliography, and places to visit to learn more.  112 pages; grades 5-7. 

Pros:  A fascinating blend of science and history, covering both the history of slavery in the northern United States, and the science of how the skeletons contributed to this knowledge.

Cons: A picture of a slave being burned alive near the end of the book could be disturbing to some readers.

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