Database for Forensic Anthropology in the United States, 1962-1991 (ICPSR 2581)

Published: Mar 30, 2006

Principal Investigator(s):
Richard J. Jantz, University of Tennessee, Department of Anthropology; Peer H. Moore-Jansen, University of Tennessee, Department of Anthropology

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02581.v1

Version V1

This project was undertaken to establish a computerized skeletal database composed of recent forensic cases to represent the present ethnic diversity and demographic structure of the United States population. The intent was to accumulate a forensic skeletal sample large and diverse enough to reflect different socioeconomic groups of the general population from different geographical regions of the country in order to enable researchers to revise the standards being used for forensic skeletal identification. The database is composed of eight data files, comprising four categories. The primary "biographical" or "identification" files (Part 1, Demographic Data, and Part 2, Geographic and Death Data) comprise the first category of information and pertain to the positive identification of each of the 1,514 data records in the database. Information in Part 1 includes sex, ethnic group affiliation, birth date, age at death, height (living and cadaver), and weight (living and cadaver). Variables in Part 2 pertain to the nature of the remains, means and sources of identification, city and state/country born, occupation, date missing/last seen, date of discovery, date of death, time since death, cause of death, manner of death, deposit/exposure of body, area found, city, county, and state/country found, handedness, and blood type. The Medical History File (Part 3) represents the second category of information and contains data on the documented medical history of the individual. Variables in Part 3 include general comments on medical history as well as comments on congenital malformations, dental notes, bone lesions, perimortem trauma, and other comments. The third category consists of an inventory file (Part 4, Skeletal Inventory Data) in which data pertaining to the specific contents of the database are maintained. This includes the inventory of skeletal material by element and side (left and right), indicating the condition of the bone as either partial or complete. The variables in Part 4 provide a skeletal inventory of the cranium, mandible, dentition, and postcranium elements and identify the element as complete, fragmentary, or absent. If absent, four categories record why it is missing. The last part of the database is composed of three skeletal data files, covering quantitative observations of age-related changes in the skeleton (Part 5), cranial measurements (Part 6), and postcranial measurements (Part 7). Variables in Part 5 provide assessments of epiphyseal closure and cranial suture closure (left and right), rib end changes (left and right), Todd Pubic Symphysis, Suchey-Brooks Pubic Symphysis, McKern & Steward--Phases I, II, and III, Gilbert & McKern--Phases I, II, and III, auricular surface, and dorsal pubic pitting (all for left and right). Variables in Part 6 include cranial measurements (length, breadth, height) and mandibular measurements (height, thickness, diameter, breadth, length, and angle) of various skeletal elements. Part 7 provides postcranial measurements (length, diameter, breadth, circumference, and left and right, where appropriate) of the clavicle, scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, scarum, innominate, femur, tibia, fibula, and calcaneus. A small file of noted problems for a few cases is also included (Part 8).

Jantz, Richard J., and Moore-Jansen, Peer H. Database for Forensic Anthropology in the United States, 1962-1991. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-03-30. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR02581.v1

Export Citation:

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (86-IJ-CX-0021)

A downloadable version of data for this study is available however, certain identifying information in the downloadable version may have been masked or edited to protect respondent privacy. Additional data not included in the downloadable version are available in a restricted version of this data collection. For more information about the differences between the downloadable data and the restricted data for this study, please refer to the codebook notes section of the PDF codebook. Users interested in obtaining restricted data must complete and sign a Restricted Data Use Agreement, describe the research project and data protection plan, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

1962 -- 1991

1986 -- 1998

The user guide, codebooks, and data collection instruments are provided as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided through the ICPSR Website on the Internet.

During the last 30 years, the field of forensic sciences has seen an exponential increase in the amount of work being conducted by forensic anthropologists in cooperation with or directly for law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, and local level. It is now common practice for the police and others in the law enforcement community across the nation to rely on the expertise of the forensic anthropologist whenever identification of human skeletal remains is involved, including cases of suspected homicide and suicide. Forensic anthropologists rely on documented skeletons to establish the skeletal criteria to estimate age, sex, race, and stature to achieve human identification from present skeletal remains. The traditional source of such documented skeletons has been anatomical collections, principally the Terry Collection (Robert J. Terry, Washington University, St. Louis) and the Hamann-Todd collection (T. Wingate Todd). It has become increasingly clear that many aspects of skeletal morphology have changed markedly over the past century and a half. The skeletal biology of Americans is in flux because of new migrations and improvements in nutrition, medicine, and hygiene, resulting in different patterns of growth, development, morbidity, and mortality. Since the birth dates for the Terry and Hamann-Todd specimens are mainly from 1850 to 1900, questions have arisen as to the appropriateness of these samples to aid in the identification of modern skeletal remains. The two permanent reference collections of modern skeletons at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and the University of New Mexico are extremely valuable but relatively small and could not by themselves serve as a source of skeletal identification criteria. The objective of this project was to establish a computerized skeletal database composed of recent forensic cases to represent the ethnic diversity and demographic structure of the United States population. The intent was to accumulate a forensic skeletal sample large and diverse enough to reflect different socioeconomic groups of the general population from different geographical regions of the country in order to enable researchers to revise the standards being used for forensic skeletal identification.

The database is composed of eight data files, comprising four categories. The primary "biographical" or "identification" files (Part 1, Demographic Data, and Part 2, Geographic and Death Data) comprise the first category of information and pertain to the positive identification of each of the 1,514 data records in the database . The Medical History File (Part 3) represents the second category of information and contains data on the documented medical history of the individual. The third category consists of an inventory file (Part 4, Skeletal Data) in which data pertaining to the specific contents of the database are maintained. This includes the inventory of skeletal material by element and side (left and right), indicating the condition of the bone as either partial or complete. The last part of the database is composed of three skeletal data files, covering quantitative observations of age-related changes in the skeleton (Part 5), cranial measurements (Part 6), and postcranial measurements (Part 7). A small file of noted problems is also included (Part 8). From this database of relational files, modified composites of information of variable categories can be constructed.

None.

All post-1900 forensic skeletal remains.

Individuals.

forensic databases

clinical data

Information in Part 1 includes sex, ethnic group affiliation, birth date, age at death, height (living and cadaver), and weight (living and cadaver). Variables in Part 2 pertain to the nature of the remains, means and sources of identification, city and state/country born, occupation, date missing/last seen, date of discovery, date of death, time since death, cause of death, manner of death, deposit/exposure of body, area found, city, county, and state/country found, handedness, and blood type. Variables in Part 3 include general comments on medical history as well as comments on congenital malformations, dental notes, bone lesions, perimortem trauma, and other comments. The variables in Part 4 provide a skeletal inventory of the cranium, mandible, dentition, and postcranium elements and identify the element as complete, fragmentary, or absent. If absent, four categories record why it is missing. Variables in Part 5 provide assessments of epiphyseal closure and cranial suture closure (left and right), rib end changes (left and right), Todd Pubic Symphysis, Suchey-Brooks Pubic Symphysis, McKern & Steward--Phases I, II, and III, Gilbert & McKern--Phases I, II, and III, auricular surface, and dorsal pubic pitting (all for left and right). Variables in Part 6 include cranial measurements (length, breadth, height) and mandibular measurements (height, thickness, diameter, breadth, length, and angle). Part 7 provides postcranial measurements (length, diameter, breadth, circumference, and left and right, where appropriate) of the clavicle, scapula, humerus, radius, ulna, scarum, innominate, femur, tibia, fibula, and calcaneus. Part 8 provides additional notes for a few cases.

Not applicable.

None.

2000-05-01

2006-03-30

2000-05-01 ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

2006-03-30 File CB2581.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.

  • One or more files in this data collection have special restrictions. Restricted data files are not available for direct download from the website; click on the Restricted Data button to learn more.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
NACJD logo

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.