Report on Black Philadelphians’ remains in the Morton skull collection

PRSS Penn Medicine and the Afterlives of Slavery (PMAS) affiliated doctoral fellow Paul Wolff Mitchell, a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology, has authored a report documenting that the remains of fourteen Black Philadelphians are found in the Samuel George Morton cranial collection and that some of these individuals were likely born enslaved. Morton, who was affiliated with Penn Medicine in the 1840s, was one of America’s first “scientific” racists and collected and measured skulls to prove white supremacy in the 1830-50s. Moreover, the report shows that the Penn Museum is built across the street from the graves of Black Philadelphians in the Morton collection, providing another clear example of Penn’s role in the history and afterlives of slavery, medical racism, and racial science.