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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Brigitte Holt

Second Advisor

Laurie Godfrey

Third Advisor

Robert Schwartz

Subject Categories

Biological and Physical Anthropology


Exposure to poor environments, malnutrition, and labor during childhood can lead to stunted height and increased mortality. Studies of skeletal samples from Industrial Era Europe show height is stunted when compared to Medieval samples, suggesting harsher conditions. While poor conditions can negatively impact all children, boys may be particularly disadvantaged, because girls can reserve nutritional components buffering them during times of stress. This study examines the environmental effects on growth in three Industrial European skeletal samples. Juveniles (0-18 years) from varied SES backgrounds were used to test three hypotheses.

H1) Industrial Era children will exhibit shorter femora relative to a healthy reference sample, those in the lower SES will be more stunted than those in higher SES groups, and boys will be more stunted than girls.

H2) There will be higher incidences of pathological stress markers (CO, PO, LEH, and periostitis), in lower SES than higher SES children, and boys will display more stress markers than girls, especially in the low SES sample.

H3) Lower SES children will exhibit higher mortality than higher SES children, boys will show higher risk of mortality than girls, and children with stress markers will have greater risk of mortality than those without.

Results show all Industrial Era children were shorter compared to the reference sample, with higher SES samples more stunted than low SES children. All adolescent girls (13-18 years) exhibit severe stunting, likely due to delayed pubertal growth reflecting cultural buffering of boys. Presence of LEHs are significantly higher in low SES children, and periostitis is significantly higher in lower SES groups. Boys display higher frequencies of pathologies than girls, with those in the higher SES exhibiting the most. Low SES children had the greatest survivability, children with CO and PO had a greater risk of mortality, and those with LEHs had greater survivability.

Industrial Era conditions did negatively impact children's ability to grow and survive. Less stunting, little variation in stress markers, and greater survivability within the low SES suggests environmental conditions were either improved compared to the other samples or status definitions of skeletal samples are problematic and require more consideration.