This website is a resource for forensic anthropology students studying or aiming to study in the United States. The goal of this website is to pair the professional history of the discipline with the current field. Making it more accessible and open to upcoming students and simultaneously making the field more united. The future goal of this website is to extend the data beyond the United States.











Forensic Anthropology
in the United States*

If you have additional people and/or events that have shaped the field of forensic anthropology or recommended edits to the current timeline, please SUBMIT HERE.


The Parkman Murder


  • The first case of forensic anthropological methods being used to help in a medicolegal case was recorded.
  • This was the investigation of the death of Dr. George Parkman who was killed and dismembered by a Harvard Chemistry professor.
  • Two professors of anatomy reassociated the remains and estimated the biological profile of the individual to be consistent with Dr. Parkman.
  • This case brought out a lot of questions regarding the validity of forensic anthropological methods motivating anatomists to propel the field forward.
  • Thomas Dwight


  • A physician, anatomist, and Harvard professor who became known as the "Father of Forensic Anthropology in the United States".
  • He was first to extensively publish works on topics in forensic anthropology.
  • He wrote “The Identification of the Human Skeleton: A Medicolegal Study” in 1878, a seminal first step towards many of the biological profile methods used today.
  • Ales Hrdlička


  • “Father of Physical Anthropology”
  • In 1904, became the head the newly created “Division of Physical Anthropology” at what is now known as the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), in Washington, D.C.
  • In the 1930s, the FBI moved across the street from the museum asking Hrdlička to consult on numerous forensic cases.
  • He continued consulting throughout his tenure at the NMNH.
  • American Journal of Physical (Biological) Anthropology


  • “Father of Physical Anthropology”
  • Creation of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, now known as the American Journal of Biological Anthropology.
  • Hrdlička was the founding editor of the journal.
  • T. Wingate Todd


  • Established the Hamann-Todd Human Skeletal Collection in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • From 1912 to 1938, he curated the collection with known demographics.
  • In 1920, he published “Age changes in the pubic bone”.
  • Terry Collection


  • Robert J. Terry, and his successor Mildred Trotter, obtained 1,728 former medical school cadavers in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • Trotter moved the remains to Washington, D.C. where they are now housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
  • Wilton Krogman


  • In 1939, he published Guide to the Identification of Human Skeletal Material Pamphlet for the FBI, the first time an identification article appeared in a forensic periodical.
  • In 1962, he wrote The Human Skeleton in Forensic Medicine, the first book focused on skeletal biology’s application to forensics.
  • Mildred Trotter


  • Anatomy professor at Washington University in St. Louis in School of Medicine.
  • Director of the CILHI
  • With the known military records of stature during life, she created regression formulae using the service members and the known individuals from the Terry Collection.
  • Founding member of the American Association of Physical Anthropology and their first woman president.
  • T. Dale Stewart


  • In 1954, he became the director of the of US Army identification lab in Japan.
  • Wrote “Essentials of Forensic Anthropology” in 1979, a book outlining precisely what forensic anthropologists contribute to the investigation of death & his researched methods used to assess biological profile from skeleton.
  • AAFS—Physical Anthropology


  • In 1972, the physical anthropology section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS) was created.
  • American Board of Forensic Anthropology (ABFA)


  • This is the board that oversees certification of forensic anthropologists.
  • An ABFA diplomate, is a person who has obtained a doctorate degree and successfully passed rigorous examinations that tests their competency in the field.
  • Forensic Anthropology Center


  • Dr. William Bass established the Forensic Anthropology Center, a donation and research center, colloquially known as the “Body Farm” at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
  • EAAF


  • Dr. Clyde Snow begins training forensic anthropologists to work on human rights and genocide cases helping create the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) to attempt to locate, recover, and identify victims of the regional conflict in prior years.
  • The EAAF expanded their efforts globally and have offered assistance in many countries.
  • Forensic Anthropology Data Bank & Fordisc


  • In 1986, Drs. Richard Jantz and Stephen Ousley developed the Forensic Anthropology Data Bank and the program Fordisc, a statistical program that allows you to run unknown individual metrics against known individuals in the data bank to estimate sex and ancestry/population affinity of an individual.
  • Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals


  • This court case propelled all forensic sciences to be held to higher standards for court admissibility.
  • These include: Has the technique been tested in actual field conditions (and not just in a laboratory)? Has the technique been subject to peer review and publication? What is the known or potential rate of error? Do standards exist for the control of the technique's operation? Has the technique been generally accepted within the relevant scientific community? These standards are upheld today and drive forensic research.
  • Ellis Kerley Foundation


  • This foundation was the first funding source solely for forensic anthropological research and still continues today.
  • Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command


  • Central Identification Laboratory renamed to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC)
  • This labs becomes the first skeletal identification lab to obtain national accreditation.
  • Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology


  • The Scientific Working Group for Forensic Anthropology (SWGANTH) is established to create standards and best practices.
  • NAS Report on Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward


  • National Academy of Science (NAS) Report on Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward was published calling for clearer, national standards for the forensic sciences going beyond the Daubert standards and highlighting pitfalls in the fields.
  • Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for Forensic Science


  • Created with Anthropology holding its own committee which coordinates the development of draft standard and guideline documents, which then proceed through a Standards Development Organization (SDO).
  • Forensic Anthropology Journal


  • The Forensic Anthropology journal debuted introducing the first journal that solely focuses on all research related solely to forensic anthropology and archaeology.

    Inclusionary criteria for universities listed on this map include: an employed active ABFA diplomates, Forensic Anthropology courses, and a graduate program. If there are programs that meet these criteria, are not included, and you would like them to be added to this map, please contact me.


    This section focuses on the history of the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and the associated diplomates. The aim of this section is to give students an idea of the pathways that diplomates have taken to become certified forensic anthropologists in the United States. Data derived from the ABFA Website.

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