Jeremy W. Pye






















Research Interests


19th century historic period, historical archaeology, mortuary material culture, mortuary patterning and cemetery landscape, bioarchaeology, archaeoparasitology, archival science, historic preservation and conservation, economic anthropology, transportation, contact period Native American archaeology, and the archaeology of the North American Great Plains



Current and Recently Completed Projects

Funeral Industry Trade Journal Source Page pcu


One of the important element in the capitalist transition that death care went through in the 19th century was the professionalization of the funeral industry. Official, and exclusive trade journals were a product of, or a catalyst of, that professionalization, and are therefore vital links to the historical development of the industry, to the development of mortuary merchandise, as well as to the national climate as a whole.

Click here to be taken to the webpage that I have created to provide interested parties with links to funeral industry trade journals from the 19th and 20th centuries, which have already been posted elsewhere online. Additionally, links to pdfs are provided where journals have digitized by the author of this site.


New Home Cemetery Mortuary Artifact Analysis new home


In February of 2011, Geo-Marine, Inc. contracted with the author to provide analysis of historic mortuary artifacts recovered from archaeological excavations of 24 burials within the New Home Cemetery in Fort Bend County, Texas. This cemetery has been owned and operated by the African-American, New Home Mission Baptist Church since 1895. Analysis and comparison of recovered casket hardware and embalming paraphernalia to United States patent records (n=2,612), period manufacturers’ trade catalogs (n=270), and archaeological cemetery excavation literature (n=155), revealed that the disturbed burials dated between 1895 and the early 1960s.

Click here to download a copy of the full report.

Click here to download a copy of the hardware analysis report.



Tucson Cemetery Mortuary Archaeology AnalysisJCChandlecomposite

The excavations at the Tucson Cemetery (1862-1881) revealed 1,386 individuals in 1,006 burials. This portion of the final report consists of a description of the burial container typology and the burial container hardware analysis.

There were approximately 909 burial containers recorded during excavations. Of those containers recorded roughly 384 were hexagonal in shape, 265 were rectangular, 190 were trapezoidal, and 70 were classified as shape undetermined due to poor physical preservation or a lack of grave/burial integrity. A great deal of variation exists in the construction of containers within each of these groups.

A relatively small sample of decorative hardware was recovered. The nine types of handles can be seen in the figure above. Additionally, there were five coffin screw types and eight ornamental tack types identified. Exact identification of types and styles of hardware is vital in defining the chronology of burial, particularly in the absence of dated grave markers. For this study, 120 mortuary hardware trade catalogues, dating between 1853 and 1928 were used for comparisons. One hundred and twenty-seven archaeological cemetery excavation reports were also consulted for matches during analysis.

Click here to visit the project website and access the official final reports.

Click here to download the burial container and hardware analysis report.

Tucson Cemetery Parasite Soil AnalysisJCC Parasite

Most 19th century urban environments were plagued by parasitic infections. The 1870 Federal Mortality Schedule for Tucson suggests that parasitic agents might have contributed to a fraction of the deaths. The purpose of this project is to determine the level of parasitic infection evident in the Tucson population through the analysis of inhumation and latrine soil samples. Two-hundred and thirty-three samples, excavated from seven, post- t-cemetery latrines, and 1,070 samples representing 546 primary inhumations (1862-1882) will be screened using standard archaeoparasitological techniques. Additionally, these samples will be subjected to ELISA tests for E. histolytica, the causative agent for dysentery, and Giardia, known also to cause diarrheal disease.

This project will provide new data to explore the interrelationship between environmental indicators of health, agents of disease, cultural identity and practice, and socially constructed, structural differences between subsets of the Tucson population. The data resulting from this study will show whether or not there exist different approaches to public health, sanitation and parasitic disease in different cultural groups in urban settings in conditions where a multicultural population is represented in one complete sample.

Click here to learn about preliminary analyses from a sub-set of the soil samples.


Rambo Cemetery Coffin Hardware Analysisrambo

On July 9, 2010, Brockington and Associates, Inc. contracted with me to provide analysis of historic burial container hardware recovered from the excavations of five burials within Rambo Cemetery, Rome, Georgia. Excavations revealed a reasonably small sample of coffin hardware, consisting of three handle types, three thumbscrew types, three thumbscrew escutcheon types, one cap lifter type, one coffin screw type, one coffin tack type, and one type of miscellaneous ferrous hardware. Through analysis and comparison of this hardware collection to United States patent records (n=1438), period manufacturers’ trade catalogues (n=126), and archaeological cemetery excavation literature (n=148), these artifacts suggest that interments occurred in this cemetery generally between 1853 and 1910, but more plausibly most burials took place between 1880 and 1900.

Click here to download a copy of the hardware analysis report.

Diamond Cemetery Geophysical/Documentation Surveydiamondcem

In March of 2007, a geophysical and documentary survey was conducted in Diamond Cemetery, Stephens County, Oklahoma. There were 157 marked graves recorded during fieldwork, however count discrepancies between previous recording surveys and the present markers, as well as distinct surface anomalies suggests that unmarked burials are present. Multiple geophysical instruments were employed during this survey, including a GSSI SIR 3000 ground penetrating radar and a twin probe array TR Systems CIA resistance meter. The ground-penetrating radar unit was used to survey a 60 x 100 meter area that encompasses the majority of the cemetery except for a small, six meter strip along the western margin. Due to time and machine memory capacity, the resistance meter was used to collect data from only five 20 - x- 20 meter grids.

Click here to explore Diamond Cemetery and look at the results of the geophysical survey.


Meadowlark Cemetery Mortuary AnalysisMC

In the summer of 2004, due to impending construction, it became necessary to mitigate a small, late 19th century cemetery on the grounds of Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community, in Manhattan, Kansas. Local lore suggested that this location had been the site of a poor farm, or perhaps an orphanage. The project began with the assumption that the materials recovered should represent individuals of low socio-economic status. However, the 19th century reflections of social status in the mortuary context are much more complex, as many mortuary behaviors that mark social status may never be seen archaeologically. Therefore, it becomes necessary to re-evaluate one’s perspective on the past through a multi-disciplinary approach utilizing historical, archaeological, and biological data to provide context for the mortuary sample. A largely economic approach is taken to these data sets to attempt to answer questions about the past for which the historical record is silent, questions which no one set of data can answer alone.

Click here to learn more about this project.

Historical Anthropology of Cemeteries Bibliographycembib

In 1994, Edward Bell, of the Massachusetts Historical Commission published the work, Vestiges of Mortality and Remembrance: A Bibliography on the Historical Archaeology of Cemeteries. This work was groundbreaking, being the first effort to review and synthesize the scholarship on historic cemetery archaeology. Approximately 1,900 references are contained with this bibliography pertaining to archaeological excavations, relocations, surveys, landscape studies, ethics, law, death and dying, and so on.

For the past six I have been updating Bell's bibliograph. In so doing, I also aim to broaden the scope. I see anthropology as including all fields related to the study of the human experience, therefore, a bibliography on the historical anthropology of cemeteries should include scholarship in the fields of anthrology (including archaeological, biological, linguistic, and cultural anthropology), thanatology, psychology, material culture studies, and many others. I have thus far collected more than 3,000 references beyond those of Bell.


A Guide to Funeral Related Merchandise Catalogscatalogs

In his work, A Guide to American Trade Catalogs (1960), Lawrence Romaine stated, "manuscript material and printed reports are indispensable, but catalogs that actually sold the nation the inventions and imporvements are the backbone of history." Romaine was among the first to realize the important of printed merchandise catalogs to historical studies of material culture, but many more catalogs have surfaced since the time that Romaine gathered his varied collection of paper ephemera.

For the past eight years, I have been amassing a union list of 1,606 extant funeral related merchandise catalogs to aid researchers in funeral material culture in locating useful resources. These catalogs advertise items representing three mortuary contexts: funeral/burial event, cemetery, and post-funerary mourning. They include things such as: burial containers, linings, robes, hardware, monuments and memorials, ceramic memorial portraits, hearses, mausoleums, memorial cards, funeral flowers, and many more. These catalogs are housed in museums, libraries, private companies, and personal collections throughout the United States and Canada. There are a few repositories left with undocumented collections, but once I feel as though I have exhausted most leads, I hope to have publish this list in printed form. Hopefully this project will be more or less complete in the next couple of years.

Click here for a list of catalogs, which I currently have copies of or personally own.

Coffin/Casket Hardware Guidebook1865_RussellErwin

More than 12,000 historic period burials have been archaeologically excavated in the United States since 1953. In many cases, when wooden containers were used for burial, all that remains is the construction or decorative hardware. Decorative hardware serve as temporal diagnostics. Additionally, their presence can be a major factor in estimating cost of a burial.

A lack of knowledge about this class of material culture has stemmed largely from a lack of accessible period trade catalogs and price lists. I currently have access to more than 400 catalogs dating between 1797 and 2010, which illustrate various forms of hardware (including handles, thumbscrews, escutcheons, hinges, screws, tacks, etc.) and ornaments, as well as caskets. The aim of this project is to create a typology of burial container hardware, illustrating each form known to have been produced. The resultant guidebook with permit scholars to easily access information on temporality and costs of recovered hardware, and allow for more complete interpretations of mortuary assemblages. This project is intimately connected to other projects described on this page and has been many years in the making. That said, a great deal more work will have to be done in years to come.



Sear, Roebuck, and Company Tombstones and Monuments Catalog Reproductionsears

The study of early colonial gravestones and stone carvers has largely dominated the literature in gravestone studies. One seldom appreciated type of marker is the mass-produced gravestone of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Such items were often sold via mail-order catalogs. It cannot be stressed enough the important role that mail-order operations, like Sears, Roebuck & Co., played in the development of American consumerism. Rural Americans were, for the first time, able to purchase items, which had been either unaccessible or unaffordable.

Sears, Roebuck & Co. developed its own memorial department around the turn of the 20th century, and published the first ad for monuments (to my knowledge) in their Fall 1900 general catalog. By 1902, the memorial department had enough business that they expanded and published a separate speciality tombstone catalog until 1949. Though the full speciality catalog was no longer being produced, Sears is still known to have produced sales ads for monuments even in the 1960s.

Though Sears printed tombstone catalogs for 47 years, they are relatively rare on the market, and only a few are available for study in institution museums or libraries. I am in discussions with a publisher to reproduce the 1906 Sears tombstone catalog so that more scholars can access the information contained therein.

J.A. Dedouch and Company, and the History of Ceramic Memorial Portraits dedo

Photography changed the face of memorialization by allowing even the middle and lower class the chance to obtain likenesses of loved ones (either in life or in death). One type of product utilizing photographic techniques was the ceramic memorial portrait, which would have been attached to the tombstone. The first to outline the process by which an image could be fixed to enamel or porcelain were two French photographers, Bulot and Cattin. Their method of fixing, vitrifying, and coloring photographic images upon a viarety of bases was patented in France on December 11, 1854 (No. 11657), and in England on December 13, 1854 (Letters Patent No. 2620, by French Patent Agent de Fontaine Moreau).

In the United States, one of the most popular companies manufacturing these products was the J.A. Dedouch Company, which produced memorial portraits in Oak Park, Illinois, from 1893 until 2004. It was bought out by the Canadian memorial portrait company, PSM. The Dedouch equipment was moved to PSM's facilities in Canada, and they continue to produce many Dedouch products. In trying to track down merchandise catalogs from the Dedouch company I contacted the previous owner, Richard Stannard. He was interested in preserving the colorful history of the company. I, along with an assistant, will be conducting a series of interviews to record some of this history so that the public will know how important this company was in the memorialization of thousands throughout the country.




History of Memorial Cabinet Cardsmemcard

Memorial cabinet cards, sometimes referred to simply as memorial cards, or funeral cards, are the size of the common cabinet photographs, measuring 6 ½ by 4 ¼ inches. They were printed on stout card stock similar to cabinet photographs. A number of companies produced the cards, though the exact numberof companies is not currently known. These types of cards are known to have been produced as early as 1876 (possibly earlier), up to 1930, though the height of their popularity seems to run between 1895 and 1915. Current research seeks to accumulate examples of memorial card styles in an attempt to reconstruct the product base of identifiable companies where no merchandise catalogs survived. Additionally, a secondary aim is to acquire merchandise catalogs to see the full suite of items sold and the prices of each item.

If you have examples of memorial cards or memorial card catalogs you would like to share, I would love ot hear from you.



Transito De Angelitos: Iconografia Infantil Translationangelitos

Originally written by Gutierre Aceves Piña and published by the Museo de San Carlo in 1988, I, along with a former student, have undertaken the translation of this work. Primarily a description of a collection of artwork and photographs, it has important implications for scholarship on Mexican funeral practices. See here an excerpt of the translation:

"Within the Catholic cultural tradition they call someone who died after baptism and before being able to use reason a “little angel”. Therefore, the phrase “little angel” manifests two things, the extreme pureness of this small being, that is free from the original sin because of baptism; also there is the firm conviction that the child, due to their young age, will enter Heaven immediately. The origin of this distinction and fundamental scripture comes from the New Testament, when Christ states that to reach salvation one must be like a child which implies having a young soul. To die, one must die as if they were a child." [Piña 1988:20]