The following is a letter that was received from University of Louisville to Charlotte Holleran in regard to bodies donated to Science from Western State Hospital.
Subj: Looking for info on Bodies Donated to the School for medical study
Date: 8/15/01 9:10:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: email@example.com (Katherine Johnson)
Here is some information about the body bequeathal program at UofL. As you
will see, the records that exist date back to 1923. I have no idea if there
are markers in the UofL cemetery. You may want to contact the program
Katherine Burger Johnson
Kornhauser Health Sciences Library
University of Louisville
Body Bequeathal, Disposal and RecordsWe occasionally receive questions relating to the donation of human remains
to the medical school for medical research. Usually the questions concern
ultimate disposition of the remains - this is frequently a genealogical
The Bequeathal program at the School of Medicine has its own web site for
persons requesting information on possible donation of their own remains or
those of a family member at http://www.louisville.edu/medschool/anatomy/ then click
The web site mentions that the remains are ultimately cremated and buried in
the University cemetery. Dr. Fred Roisen of the medical school states that,
"Our cemetery is located on Cane Run Road, it is the River Valley Cemetery.
It is in a fenced-in area and has a marker. We do have some landscaping
around it but we are getting ready to do more landscaping to make it an even
The program now has a records coordinator, who in years past was likely the
position referred to as "diener." There are some records dating back to 1923
(although sketchy) regarding disposition of bodies given to the University.
In the early 1900s reporting was a bit more casual than it is now. Current
state regulations in regard to death and body disposal require more thorough
reporting. Now included on the death certificate are names of funeral
director, funeral home, body bequeathal, cremation, burial of body or
In regard to the earlier death certificates, however, when the listing is
University, it probably means that the body was given to Anatomy Department
for anatomical study, BUT not always. It was the practice of the hospital to
also send stillborn infants and indigents to the university and they may have
been cremated or buried. This practice continued until the 1960s (the 1923 -
- records MAY indicate what happened in specific cases).
One other clue that family researchers might follow if it is listed on the
death certificate is the name of a funeral home or coroner. If those are
listed, records may be available in their respective offices. Since 1993, the
program's records have been computerized.
Questions may be referred to the coordinator at 502-852-5744 .
Thank you Charlotte for this contribution. I'm sure it will help others in their search!
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