John Brown

Bodies in Transit

The information in the ledgers about deceased persons whose bodies were transported through Manhattan prior to burial is a rich resource for genealogists and historians researching diverse topics in American urban history including public health, mortality and the Civil War.

The origins of this record arise from the City’s efforts to protect the health of its rapidly growing population. In 1804, the New York State Legislature authorized the New York City Common Council to enact sanitary ordinances and appoint a City Inspector. The first Board of Health was established the following year and oversaw the City Inspector’s Department.