Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology


Linear enamel hypoplasia (LEH) is a condition of tooth enamel characterized by linear bands in tooth enamel that result from metabolic stress during the childhood years of enamel formation. The presence of LEH has frequently been used in biological anthropology as a marker of stress experienced during childhood. This paper uses a biocultural approach to investigate the occurrence and severity of LEH defects on the teeth of African American and European American adult male remains in the Terry Anatomical Skeletal Collection. The Terry Collection consists of low socioeconomic status individuals whose remains were unclaimed at St. Louis morgues and hospitals, and thus available for inclusion in a research collection. For this research, teeth of individuals born during the Reconstruction (1865-1877) and Early Jim Crow (1877-1900) years were examined and scored for the presence and width of LEH defects. I hypothesized that I) the rate of individuals with evidence of LEH would be high in this sample due to the low socioeconomic status of individuals comprising the collection; and that the occurrence of LEH would be similar for European Americans during both time periods, but increase for African Americans born during Early Jim Crow as a result of state sanctioned racial discrimination. Results support a high prevalence of LEH for both ethnicities and time eras with a 95% rate of occurrence. Additionally, wider LEH lesions in the African American sample indicate that prolonged stress episodes increased significantly for African Americans during Early Jim Crow, but not for European Americans. These data suggest that, while the total population experienced substantial metabolic stress during childhood, African Americans males born during the Jim Crow years experienced more prolonged periods of stress as a result of race-based discrimination.

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Anthropology Commons



Faculty Mentor

Patricia Lambert

Departmental Honors Advisor

Jacob Freeman