Iron Coffin Mummy on PBS

Martha Peterson

Mr. Warnasch worked with the local community to tentatively identify the Queens woman as Martha Peterson and has uncovered several tantalizing clues regarding her life.

Martha Peterson

The body of an African American woman was discovered in 2011 in Elmhurst, Queens, as part of what was originally thought to be a potential crime scene. It was determined that the woman, who had been buried in a Fisk coffin, died of small pox. Based on historical records, she has been tentatively identified as Martha Peterson, who was born in 1824 and died around 1851. She was buried in the Dutch Lane churchyard, founded in 1828 by the first generation of fully emancipated African Americans in Queens. Records suggest that she may have been taught by escaped slave, minister, educator and abolitionist James W. C. Pennington.

More information to come.

 

Queens lady lesions
Martha Peterson’s Arm Lesions – Small Pox
Map of Newtown, Queens, circa 1873 showing the churchyard where Martha was buried and school house she likely attended
queens lady pointed toes
Hammertoes indicate she wore shoes that were either pointed or too small
Queens Lady Stockings | Photo credit: John Wozniak
Martha Peterson’s Stockings | Photo credit: John Wozniak
Scott Warnasche archeologist
Scene recovery 2011. Photo by Chris Rainwater
Photo by Linda Warnasch
Queens Lady Shroud | Photo credit: John Wozniak
Martha Peterson’s Shroud | Photo credit: John Wozniak
Queens Lady Chemise | Photo credit: John Wozniak
Martha Peterson’s Chemise | Photo credit: John Wozniak
Queens Lady Tortise Shell Hair Comb | Photo credit: John Wozniak
Martha Peterson’s Hair Comb | Photo credit: John Wozniak

In the News

Hello everyone!

Thanks for checking out my website. I’m happy to have this forum to explore and expand on topics related to Fisk coffins and associated people, places and events. I want to begin by explaining what I find so fascinating about Fisk coffins. To me, they’re way more than just cool-looking coffins that naturally preserve human […]

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Iron Coffin Mummies - speaking engagement Nov 2018

University of Indianapolis Lecture Series | Nov 16, 2018s

AMERICAN MUMMIES: THE INDUSTRIAL BIRTH OF THE ETERNAL DEAD November 16 @ 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center, Lilly Performance Hall University of Indianapolis University Lecture Series: Scott Warnasch You are invited to the University of Indianapolis for this fascinating lecture as Forensic Archaeologist Scott Warnasch discusses his most recent episode of “Secrets of the Dead – The […]

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iron coffin mummy on pbs w scott warnash

Full Show Now Streaming! PBS Secrets of the Dead episode “Woman in the Iron Coffin”

US | Full Length Episode View on the PBS website UK | Full Length Episode View on the TPT/PBS website

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