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Review

Documented Skeletal Collections and Their Importance in Forensic Anthropology in the United States

1
Department of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY 10024-5102, USA
2
LABOH—Laboratory of Biological Anthropology and Human Osteology, CRIA—Centro em Rede de Investigação em Antropologia, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, 1099-085 Lisboa, Portugal
3
CEF—Centre for Functional Ecology—Science for People & the Planet, Forensic Anthropology and Paleobiology, University of Coimbra, 3004-531 Coimbra, Portugal
4
Cranfield Forensic Institute, Cranfield Defense & Security, Cranfield University, Cranfield MK43 0AL, UK
5
Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ricardo Jorge Dinis-Oliveira
Forensic Sci. 2021, 1(3), 228-239; https://doi.org/10.3390/forensicsci1030021
Received: 29 November 2021 / Revised: 7 December 2021 / Accepted: 10 December 2021 / Published: 15 December 2021
Documented skeletal collections are the backbone of forensic anthropology due to their associated biohistories. This paper describes the identified skeletal collections and their relevance in forensic anthropological research, education and training in the US. The establishment of documented skeletal collections in the US can be distinguished into two modus operandi, depending on the stance towards the dead, legislation, and medical and forensic practices. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, anatomists amassed skeletons from cadaver dissections, shaped by European influences. Those skeletons compose the anatomical collections—such as the Robert J. Terry Anatomical Collection—predominantly representing impoverished and unclaimed individuals. Ethical concerns for the curation and research of African American skeletons without family consent are growing in the US. In contrast, since the 1980s, modern documented skeletal collections originated from body donations to human taphonomy facilities, such as the William M. Bass Donated Skeletal Collection. The establishment and testing of osteological methods essential to establish one’s identity—such as age at death and sex—have been developed with skeletons from documented collections. Therefore, the analysis of identified skeletons has been crucial for the development of forensic anthropology in the US. View Full-Text
Keywords: human osteological collections; identified skeletal collections; biographical data; ethics; anatomical collections; human taphonomy facilities; unclaimed cadavers; body donations; biological profile; osteobiographies human osteological collections; identified skeletal collections; biographical data; ethics; anatomical collections; human taphonomy facilities; unclaimed cadavers; body donations; biological profile; osteobiographies
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MDPI and ACS Style

Campanacho, V.; Alves Cardoso, F.; Ubelaker, D.H. Documented Skeletal Collections and Their Importance in Forensic Anthropology in the United States. Forensic Sci. 2021, 1, 228-239. https://doi.org/10.3390/forensicsci1030021

AMA Style

Campanacho V, Alves Cardoso F, Ubelaker DH. Documented Skeletal Collections and Their Importance in Forensic Anthropology in the United States. Forensic Sciences. 2021; 1(3):228-239. https://doi.org/10.3390/forensicsci1030021

Chicago/Turabian Style

Campanacho, Vanessa, Francisca Alves Cardoso, and Douglas H. Ubelaker. 2021. "Documented Skeletal Collections and Their Importance in Forensic Anthropology in the United States" Forensic Sciences 1, no. 3: 228-239. https://doi.org/10.3390/forensicsci1030021

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