African Burial Ground


New York’s African Burial Ground is the final resting place of as many as 20,000 free and enslaved Africans.

More than 400 sets of remains and artifacts found in 1991 are being sent to Howard University where researchers hope to shed some light on the little-known lives and deaths of blacks in the North. The finds, which date back to the 17th century, challenge the popular belief that there was no slavery in colonial New York.

The African Burial Ground Monument, designed by architect Rodney Leon (pictured), was designated by President George W. Bush on Feb. 27, 2006 as the 123rd National Monument. The area has also been recognized as a National Park.


Some 145 beads were recovered from seven of the burials. Most were made of colored glass. In one case, the beads comprised an infant's necklace.


In some cases, the beads were worn as waistbeads (pictured here). Beads played an important ceremonial role in African culture, marking touchstones of a person's life. Beads were also protective symbols commonly draped over infants and children to guard them against evil spirits in life and after death.


Buttons, such as these, discovered in a man's coffin, suggest his connection to the Continental Army.


Round gilt copper-alloy cufflinks indicate that at least two men were buried wearing dress shirts.


The remains of a young child were discovered with a silver pendant around his or her neck.


Shroud pins, used to pin cloth burial wrappings, were the most plentiful artifact found within the cemetery population.

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