We Carry Their Bones: The Search for Justice at the Dozier School for Boys (Hardcover)

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We Carry Their Bones: The Search for Justice at the Dozier School for Boys By Erin Kimmerle Cover Image
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(TRUE CRIME)

Staff Reviews


If you are fascinated by the history of Jim Crow America, Forensic Anthropology, or anything true crime-related, you will devour this book. Warning: it will wrench your heart and make you want to yell at the top of your lungs at the injustice these children faced. Equal parts politics, science, and personal narrative, this story offers a lot; it is extremely important and will forever alter the rendering of what truly happened at the Dozier Boys School.
— From Danielle's Picks

This was a book that demanded and held my attention from start to finish. It's a true story about persistence and justice. It starts, chronologically speaking, with a group of men united by their shared trauma from their time at the Dozier School for Boys in Florida. They remember the beatings, the sexual assault, and the unmarked graves. After being the source of scandal one too many times, the school was shut down, but there were still questions about those graves... Enter the author, Erin Kimmerle, a forensic anthropologist. The book details her experience unearthing the remains of boys -- mostly Black boys -- that died under mysterious circumstances and were buried onsite at the school. It also delves into the roadblocks from locals that wanted to preserve the town's fragile reputation and the systemic structures that allowed such a place to exist. This read is equal parts intense, educational, and heartbreaking.
— From Bee's Picks (page 2)

Description


"With We Carry Their Bones, Erin Kimmerle continues to unearth the true story of the Dozier School, a tale more frightening than any fiction. In a corrupt world, her unflinching revelations are as close as we'll come to justice." –Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer-Prize Winning author of The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad

Forensic anthropologist Erin Kimmerle investigates of the notorious Dozier Boys School—the true story behind the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Nickel Boys—and the contentious process to exhume the graves of the boys buried there in order to reunite them with their families.

The Arthur G. Dozier Boys School was a well-guarded secret in Florida for over a century, until reports of cruelty, abuse, and “mysterious” deaths shut the institution down in 2011. Established in 1900, the juvenile reform school accepted children as young as six years of age for crimes as harmless as truancy or trespassing. The boys sent there, many of whom were Black, were subject to brutal abuse, routinely hired out to local farmers by the school’s management as indentured labor, and died either at the school or attempting to escape its brutal conditions.

In the wake of the school’s shutdown, Erin Kimmerle, a leading forensic anthropologist, stepped in to locate the school’s graveyard to determine the number of graves and who was buried there, thus beginning the process of reuniting the boys with their families through forensic and DNA testing. The school’s poorly kept accounting suggested some thirty-one boys were buried in unmarked graves in a remote field on the school’s property. The real number was at least twice that. Kimmerle’s work did not go unnoticed; residents and local law enforcement threatened and harassed her team in their eagerness to control the truth she was uncovering—one she continues to investigate to this day.

We Carry Their Bones is a detailed account of Jim Crow America and an indictment of the reform school system as we know it. It’s also a fascinating dive into the science of forensic anthropology and an important retelling of the extraordinary efforts taken to bring these lost children home to their families—an endeavor that created a political firestorm and a dramatic reckoning with racism and shame in the legacy of America.  

About the Author


Erin Kimmerle, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida and executive director of the Florida Institute of Forensic Anthropology and Applied Science at USF. She lives with her two sons outside Tampa, Florida.


Praise For…


"With We Carry Their Bones, Erin Kimmerle continues to unearth the true story of the Dozier School, a tale more frightening than any fiction. In a corrupt world, her unflinching revelations are as close as we'll come to justice." — Colson Whitehead, Pulitzer-Prize Winning author of The Nickel Boys and The Underground Railroad

“Gripping….Kimmerle speaks eloquently to official crimes that have yet to be fully accounted for, giving a closely observed account of forensic investigation along the way. A horrific story of true crime, unjust punishment, and the quest for justice for the victims of a cruel state.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063030244
ISBN-10: 0063030241
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 14th, 2022
Pages: 256
Language: English