DOI: 10.1016/j.jflm.2022.102399">

Recommendations for large-scale exhumations of Potter's Fields: Cases in the US

Document Type


Publication Date



Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Publication Title

Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine


Increased commitment to humanitarian identification and advances in DNA technology contribute to growing interest in large scale identification operations for unidentified, interred remains. However, scant literature discusses the practical challenges in conducting cemetery exhumations en masse for the purposes of DNA sampling and reinterment. This paper draws on a case study of cemetery exhumations conducted in the US as part of a multi-agency, multi-year endeavor, Operation UNITED. Challenges and strategies for managing logistics and manpower, locating human remains in active cemeteries, and overcoming containment and preservation issues of adult and juvenile remains are presented. This paper evidences the potential for investigation into cemetery exhumation strategies to assist in effective humanitarian identification.

Link to Published Version

DOI: 10.1016/j.jflm.2022.102399