Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Comparative and Experimental Medicine

Major Professor

Murray K. Marks

Committee Members

Stephen Kania, James M. Lewis


This light and scanning electron microscopic research documents structure and measures change in cementum of several historic African American burial ground samples dating from approximately 1820-1920. The populations these samples represent are from the First African- American Baptist Church in Philadelphia (PA), the Cedar Grove Baptist Church, Texarkana (AR), and Providence Baptist Church, Memphis (TN).This research bears dental histological, forensic and historical significance. Of the dental tissues, cementum structure is the lesser known. Because of continual deposition, annuli have been utilized in age estimation. Cementum annuli is potentially a better age-estimation tissue due to its protected alveolar bone location and that utilization of these incremental lines may be more than any other morphological or histological trait in the human skeleton.There has been only slight research with cementum and even less analyzation using scanning electron microscopy. Here, I obtained high-resolution, three-dimensional topographical images that provide compositional information to the tissue. This analysis provides a metabolic snapshot into the developmental aspect of these individuals.This focus fosters historical interest due to the one-hundred-year chronology, population, and location of discovery. This time span covers a century encompassing the end of slavery (1619-1865), pre-reconstruction (1865-1867), reconstruction (1867-1877), and the era of Jim Crow Law (1877-1950) which barred African Americans from not only participation in White society, but the inability to receive any quality of healthcare. As a mineralized tissue, cementum structure may have secured the impact of the social restrictions.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."