Pellagra Mortality in the Historic Mississippi State Asylum: A Comparison of Skeletal Data and Institutional Records
Zuckerman, Molly K.
Herrmann, Nicholas P.
Miller, Darcy Shane
Copeland, Toni J.
Date of Degree
Original embargo terms
Visible to MSU only for 3 years
Graduate Thesis - Open Access
Master of Arts
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures
Pellagra, a nutritional disease with no known diagnostic skeletal indicators, affected patients in the Mississippi State Insane Asylum (MSA) between 1909 and 1936. The current study employed a sample of the MSA’s death-by-discharge records (N=3445) and a skeletal sample (N=19) from the MSA cemetery to test whether co-occurring alveolar bone loss and reduced bone remodeling in the skeletons can be associated with pellagra mortality in the records. Results of the study were inconclusive as to whether the co-occurring markers are associated with pellagra, but suggest that poor dietary conditions within the MSA, conditions prior to institutionalization, and age, sex, and duration in the asylum affected patients’ pellagra mortality outcomes. Future studies should employ larger skeletal samples to better understand pellagra’s effect on the skeleton. This study and the results of future studies may aid in relief efforts for refugee populations, who are at a heightened risk of developing pellagra.
Davenport, Michelle L, "Pellagra Mortality in the Historic Mississippi State Asylum: A Comparison of Skeletal Data and Institutional Records" (2017). Theses and Dissertations MSU. 3470.