A Student’s Perspective on the Unidentified Persons Project, San Bernardino, California

Author(s): Molly Kaplan

Year: 2017


Beginning in 2006 as a response to California Senate Bill 297, the Unidentified Persons Project is the first statewide attempt to apply modern DNA analysis to cold cases in San Bernardino County. In 2014 the project became an accredited field school through the Institute of Field Research and proceeded to have two consecutive field seasons in the summers of 2014 and 2015. This paper will present a student’s perspective on the most-recent 2015 field season and will discuss both the rewards and challenges of the project. While providing a breakdown of the classroom, field, and laboratory components of the field school, this paper will also discuss the broader themes that emerged throughout the season, including the dynamics between students, professors, and law enforcement, and the realities of pursuing careers in forensic archaeology and anthropology. Overall, the Unidentified Persons Project is a profound initiative that gives back to the community and provides an incredible learning opportunity for its students. The field-school structure of the project should continue to be studied and treated as a model for other counties in California and other states looking to inspire similar initiatives nationwide.

Cite this Record

A Student’s Perspective on the Unidentified Persons Project, San Bernardino, California. Molly Kaplan. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429103)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15960