Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Hart Island Project is currently on-line and burial records 1990-2008 are searchable to registered users.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Welcome to the Hart Island Project, an artist and community collaboration. Our website and database are currently off-line while we upgrade the database functionality.

Thanks to many volunteers, we now have nearly two decades (1990-2007) of burial information on-line and searchable. Please contact us if you need immediate information about someone buried and you know the date of the death.

The film Hart Island: An American Cemetery is available for viewing on-line and at Amazon.

You can help by volunteering or through tax deductible donations to The Hart Island Project, artist Melinda Hunt are accepted at New York Foundation for the Arts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Non-human remains in the public cemetery?

In my eighteen years working on this project, I have always been certain that Hart Island was used exclusively for burying human remains. I am no longer certain.

Today, I came across an entry for "non human remains." The entry is listed as Grave 17, Plot 224, Section III buried April 14, 1992. It is clearly written. I am wondering how this can be possible since Potter's Field is for unclaimed and unidentified people.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Reuven Blau, the Post reporter who wrote the story about mothers of stillborn infants last weekend, forwarded this statement from the New York City Department of Health Press Office:

"Similarly to requesting a death certificate, a Certificate of Spontaneous Termination of Pregnancy is available upon request at no cost if a valid ID is presented. Such requests are very rare. The certificates are mailed to the requestor after the processing is completed.

If the Health Department is not able to find the certificate, the requestor is sent a statement in the mail expressing this. In some cases, the hospital may not have reported the miscarriage or fetal death."

It is a little disturbing that the Department of Health, which has oversight over New York City hospitals, would claim that hospitals might not report infant deaths as an explanation for why so many infants are missing from the Hart Island burial records. Legally, all human remains, that are not privately buried or cremated must be sent for burial on Hart Island. There is no other legal provision for handling human remains. So for a health spokesperson to claim that the hospitals don't record all infants begs the question: "How is that possible?"

Almost daily, I receive inquiries from women who well remember the loss of a child. They are are not forgetful of the time and place no matter how long ago it happened. Many of these infants are simply nowhere to be found. Let's hope the Department of Health does require hospitals to file Certificates of Intrauterine Fetal Death.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Last Sunday, September 13, 2009 the New York Post published a story, Field of Baby Sorrows, about two women in search of stillborn infants buried in the public cemetery on Hart Island. These women are among many who contact me to find out what happened to the body of a child they lost in New York City. They have often been searching for a very long time. Most were told "the city will take care of it" and nothing else.

Within 12 hours, my website, which hosts a digital database of burial records obtained through New York State Freedom of Information Law, was hacked and shut down. This is the second cyber attack in the past six months in response to media coverage. Engineers got the site functioning again in a day. However, women who may have read the article were again denied access to public information.

The posthumous blog, which appears as someone enters the database, has now become plagued with robots and spiders that saps its memory. This is truly old testament style retaliation in opposition to having people find their family and friends.

So, I have decided to start this "off-site" blog as a way to preserve stories of people located through the Hart Island Project.