Friday, April 13, 2018

Fact Friday: Forgotten Bones: uncovering a Slave Cemetery by Lois Miner Huey

Forgotten Bones: uncovering a slave cemetery by Lois Miner Huey. 56 p. Millbrook Press/ Lerner Publishing Group, October, 2015. 9781467733939. 

A backhoe operator digging up a street outside of Albany in 2005 happened to spot a skull roll down the pile of dirt he was making. Work on the sewer line had to stop while the police were called. They needed to determine whether or not the area was a crime scene. The police summoned the medical examiner, who eventually determined that the skull was several hundred years old. The utility workers could not resume however, since archaeologists were now interested in finding out whether this was the site of a burial ground. Remains were found in the area at another time of a single grave. What if this was an unmapped burial ground? The land was near to the site of a farm owned by the Schuyler family. They owned slaves. Could this be their slaves' burial ground? Now, archaeologists wanted to set up a dig to discover a new slave burial ground. The utility work would have to wait.

I found this book fascinating. The narrative was well-organized and filled with lots of detail about the meticulous work of the archaeologists both in the field and in the lab. Two chapters were devoted to explaining slavery in the north.  Backmatter includes an author's note, two-page glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, books and websites and places to visit. 

I loved the design as well. How can one resist that cover?  Compelling photos abound inside from color photos of the dig through black and white historical photos and maps. The layout is pleasing with the background alternating between creamy tan and graph paper and sometimes both. Readers learn the importance of graph paper and meticulous notes to an archaeologist, so it's a fitting design detail. 

I have no idea how I missed reading this but am glad I finally did. A great addition to any library collection.

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