Written in Bone


In February of 2009, the “Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake” exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. opened to the public. For many, it was the first time they could stand—literally face-to-face—with some of the first settlers of the colonial Chesapeake region. Fortunately, for us, we had been able to document and present the recovery and study of a range of skeletons from sites within Maryland, working closely with Dr. Doug Owlsey and his team of forensic anthropologists from the museum’s Physical Anthropology Department since 2003.

Dr. Doug Owlsey and Kari Bruwelheide in their lab.

We’ve followed Dr. Owlsey through flooded underground crypts, colonial-era grave sites, during examinations of human remains, and his bone-stocked laboratory at the museum, capturing video of amazing discoveries along the way. We are honored to be trusted to document and showcase his incredible work exploring the lives and times of both historical figures and contemporary forensic cases.

Our video footage was used to compile several short videos to support educational and fundrasing objectives tied to the exhibition and was also incorporated into a History Channel documentary and several of the audio visual presentations within the exhibition. We look forward to continue to work with Dr. Owsley for years to come and continue to learn some of the fascinating stories that are hidden within bones.