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A Different Kind of Poor: A Multi-Method Demographic Analysis of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Historic Cemetery

Author(s): Lisa Bright ; Joseph Hefner

Year: 2017

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From 2012-2014 excavations at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Historic cemetery (circa 1875-1935) resulted in the exhumation of 1,004 individuals. The cemetery, which served as one of several county burial grounds for the indigent and unknown individuals of the area, provides a glimpse into the growth and development of Santa Clara County, California. To date no cemetery records have been located, leaving the identity of these individuals a mystery. To better understand this population, a demographic analysis employing various Siler and Gompertz mortality models, as well as correspondence and transition analysis was used to compare the osteological age-at-death assessments at SCVMC to other historic bioarchaeological samples (Milwaukee County Institution Ground, Alameda Stone, and Voegtly). Additionally SCVMC is compared to known age-at-death data from Mission City Memorial Park, a contemporaneous historic county burial ground in Santa Clara County, whose data was scraped from a local genealogy website. The results indicate that individuals interred at SCVMC were likely recent immigrants into the area, and experienced higher mortality risk than the comparative sample. Interestingly males and females at SCVMC experienced identical mortality risks, contrary to the comparative sample. Demographic analysis allowed for a better understanding of county burial practices.

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A Different Kind of Poor: A Multi-Method Demographic Analysis of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Historic Cemetery. Lisa Bright, Joseph Hefner. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 428801)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -125.464; min lat: 32.101 ; max long: -114.214; max lat: 42.033 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 14619

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America