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The Source: Bone Rooms Across Country Still Draw Ire And Awe

Curious Expiditions | http://bit.ly/1SSxM6S

In 1915, the San Diego Museum of Man presented the largest exhibition of human remains in history called "The Story of Man Through the Ages." The exhibition, the product of years of work and thousands of skeletons was the prize of a the Panama-California Exposition, of which it was a part.

The exhibition was emblematic of the obsession this country had with human remains. Tens of thousands of skeletons filled the "bone rooms" of U.S. museums. The Smithsonian Institution boasted the largest collection of all.

The fascination with the study of historical bones coincided and drove a set of racial scientific theories engineered through bias to put northern Europeans at the top of a hierarchy of Man. 

A debate continues over the repatriation the bones, and the future of these remains. 


  • Sam Redman, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of "Bone Rooms: from Scientific Racism to Human Prehistory in Museums"
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Paul Flahive can be reached at Paul@tpr.org and on Twitter at @paulflahive