The Origins of Forensic Anthropology in the United States

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Nicholas Vere Passalacqua
Iris Clever


Traditional histories of forensic anthropology focus on key figures, events, and/or publications within a larger narrative of disciplinary formation and expansion. These histories typically highlight individuals such as Thomas Dwight or institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. This project represents an interdisciplinary collaboration with the goal of shedding new light onto the origins of forensic anthropology in the United States. By pulling from a number of published scholarly sources, as well as some unpublished correspondence, this project expands upon the more established historical events concerning the history of forensic anthropology. Here we argue that the origins of contemporary forensic anthropology not only trace back to the work of Wilton Krogman but that Krogman’s forensic anthropology must be understood through the life and work of his mentor, T. Wingate Todd, as well as the Hamann-Todd Collection, early efforts toward personal identification of human skeletal remains, and a complex amalgamation of US and UK influences that Krogman was exposed to through Todd’s mentorship efforts.

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