Digging for clues from the past in historic remains


What started as a box of bones has turned into a massive undertaking.

In Philadelphia, just a stone’s throw from the Liberty Bell, two blocks from Ben Franklin’s grave, and across the street from the Betsy Ross house, exists an old cemetery — a cemetery that wasn’t supposed to be there. 

Construction workers first found remnants of it last fall, while setting the foundation for an underground parking garage and condominium. The cemetery was thought to have been moved more than a century ago. For some reason, it wasn’t. By March, the remains of upwards of 70 people had been found, some still in crumbling coffins, all part of the First Baptist Cemetery, dating back to the 1700s.

Because the discovery was made on a private construction site, the city did not see grounds to intervene. What followed was a rather unusual volunteer effort to save the remains and the untold stories they might contain. But what began with a box of bones has since turned into a massive undertaking, involving the skelatal remains of upwards of 300 people, some of whom are still coming out of the ground.

As the story behind this and the fate of the remains continues to unfold, The Pulse checked in on who has been turning up, dead or alive.

We begin at a field school run through the College of New Jersey. 

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