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November 2019: On Monday, Nov. 25, Virginia Commonwealth University hosted a ceremony to acknowledge and welcome the ancestral remains discovered in the East Marshall Street Well. The ceremony marked a milestone in the work of the East Marshall Street Well Project as the ancestral remains returned to Richmond from the Smithsonian Institution, where they had been located since their discovery in 1994. For more on the return, please read A Journey Home by VCU News at https://vcu.exposure.co/a-journey-home.

October 2019: The Implementation Committee on Interment and Memorialization, led by Professor Rhonda Keyes-Pleasants and Karen Rader, Ph.D., and the Implementation Committee on Research, led by Joseph Jones, Ph.D. and Monika Markowitz, Ph.D., have begun work to implement the final recommendations of the Family Representative Council. To review the final recommendations of the Family Representative Council, which were made public in Dec. 2018, please visit https://emsw.vcu.edu/recommendations/.

Project history

In April 1994, human bones and artifacts from the 19th century were discovered in an abandoned well uncovered during construction on Virginia Commonwealth University’s MCV Campus. The well’s contents are believed to have been discarded in the 1800s by medical staff.

These humans, mainly of African descent, were not shown the respect they were due, neither in life nor in death. The university is committed to moving forward in a manner reflecting the dignity that should be accorded these individuals and has created the East Marshall Street Well Project to facilitate a process with the community that ensures the remains receive appropriate study, memorialization and reburial.

Learn more about the project

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