Forgotten Lives: Bioarchaeologist Shannon Novak to speak at Spring Street Presbyterian Church Memorial 10/19

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Dr. Shannon Novak, Maxwell Associate Professor and Bioarchaeologist

Professor Novak will speak at a memorial service for members of the historic Spring Street Presbyterian Church (SSPC). The Presbytery of New York City is holding this service to honor those laid to rest in the burial vaults (ca. 1820-1846) of the Spring Street Church, which were uncovered in 2006 during construction in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.

For the past seven years, Novak and her students have worked closely with the Presbytery to study the skeletal remains of some 200 individuals buried in the vaults. The SSPC skeletal series is the only one of its kind from this period in the city, and it provides fascinating insights into the forgotten lives of working- and middle-class peoples who were experiencing dramatic social, economic, and environmental change brought on by the market revolution. Many in the neighborhood gathered at this particular church, which was known for its radical abolitionist preachers and progressive message of self-improvement and civic duty. The church not only admitted African Americans to full communion but housed a multi-racial Sunday school.   For more on the story of the Spring Street project, please see this article from the spring 2012 print edition of the Maxwell PerspectiveYou can also learn more in this New York Times article

First Presbyterian Church Sanctuary

12 West 12th St., New York 10011 (at Fifth Ave)

Sunday, October 19th
4 – 5 p.m.

 Guests are welcome, but those planning to attend are encouraged to RSVP by email: David Pultz,

 A reception will follow in the Great Hall with light refreshments.

Works by artists affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church will be on display at the reception. The theme of the exhibit will be Spring Street and its abolitionist legacy. Some of the mortuary artifacts recovered from the church vaults will also be on display.

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