Novak to speak at historic Spring Street Presbyterian Church

Novak, ShannonShannon Novak, associate professor of anthropology, will speak at a memorial service for the members of the historic Spring Street Presbyterian Church (SSPC) on Sunday, October 19th, at the First Presbyterian Church Sanctuary on West 12th Street in Manhattan.  The Presbytery of New York City is holding this service to honor those laid to rest in the burial vaults (ca. 1820-1846) of the Spring Street Church, which were uncovered in 2006 during construction in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.

For the past seven years, Novak and her students have worked closely with the Presbytery to study the skeletal remains of some 200 individuals buried in the vaults.  The SSPC skeletal series is the only one of its kind from this period in the city, and it provides fascinating insights into the forgotten lives of working- and middle-class peoples who were experiencing dramatic social, economic, and environmental change brought on by the market revolution.  Many in the neighborhood gathered at this particular church, which was known for its radical abolitionist preachers and progressive message of self-improvement and civic duty.  The church not only admitted African Americans to full communion but housed a multi-racial Sunday school.  To read more on the individuals buried at SSPC and their stories, read the New York Times story here.

For those interested in attending Sunday’s memorial service, please RSVP by email to David Pultz at  The service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church Sanctuary at 12 West 12th St, New York, NY, from 4-5 p.m. and will be followed by a reception with light refreshments.  Works by artists affiliated with the First Presbyterian Church will be on display at the reception; the theme of the exhibit will be Spring Street and its abolitionist legacy.  Some of the mortuary artifacts recovered from the church vaults will also be on display. 10/16/14