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Slavery's children: A study of growth and childhood sex ratios in the New York African Burial Ground

Susan Kay Goode-Null, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation reports on the research related to childhood growth and sex ratios of the children from the Eighteenth century New York African Burial Ground (NYABG) cemetery population. NYABG is the largest archaeological cemetery population of enslaved Africans in North America. A total of 349 individuals comprise the baseline sample for the construction of stationary paleodemographic tables. One hundred ninety-six individuals under 25 years of age comprise the sub-sample for which analyses related to questions regarding childhood sex ratio, growth status, and childhood labor are undertaken. A morphological technique for sexing immature skeletons is tested for the first time in this project. The results of this test are then utilized in the construction of the sex ratio composition for this segment of the NYABG. Growth is assessed by examining stature estimates and standardized long bone lengths for individuals in relation to skeletal indicators of biomechanical stress, generalized pathologies, and major indicators of nutritional status. Research questions related to the life experiences of these children in a colonial slave regime are explored by incorporating historical information and the results of the analysis of growth and development and sex ratio structure within a biocultural framework. This framework integrates modes of production, as put forth by Wolf (1982), to increase the explanatory dimensions of the biocultural theoretical model.

Subject Area

Physical anthropology|Archaeology|American history|Black history

Recommended Citation

Goode-Null, Susan Kay, "Slavery's children: A study of growth and childhood sex ratios in the New York African Burial Ground" (2002). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3056230.