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Identifying the Lost: GPR of Graves at Central State Hospital

Raised toward our $5,500 Goal
93 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on March 03, at 11:59 PM EST
Project Owners

Identifying the Lost: GPR of Graves at Central State Hospital

Where are the patients of Central State Hospital buried?


Join Applied Anthropology Laboratories (AAL) of BSU and Indiana Medical History Museum (IMHM) as we locate the graves of patients buried in the first cemetery of Central State Hospital using ground penetrating radar (GPR).


AAL Student Employees Conducting a GPR Survey in a Cemetery.


Central State Hospital opened in 1848 as the Indiana Hospital for the Insane. The patients admitted to the Central State Hospital suffered from a myriad of mental illnesses. With a grossly deficient understanding of the nature of these diseases and no effective arsenal of therapies, doctor's just couldn't do much, regardless of their good intentions.



Seven Steeples Building was the Women's Ward at Central State Hospital.


From 1848 to 1905, patients were buried in the first cemetery located northwest on the Hospital grounds. In the mid-twentieth century, any headstones or grave markers were removed from the cemetery as a way to 'clean' up the grounds and make it easier to maintain. Due to this, the total number of people, the identity of those people, and the boundaries of the cemetery remain unknown to this day. BUT YOU CAN CHANGE THAT.


Please support AAL and IMHM to conduct a GPR survey to locate the entirety of the Hospital’s first cemetery and the number of individuals buried at the cemetery. This is a non-invasive methodology, preserving the dignity of the remains while allowing for academic research and public education.


Be a history maker by donating today. 


Autopsy Room in the Old Pathology Building of Central State Hospital (now IMHM).


Each dollar supports the discovery of graves buried at the cemetery in order to properly memorialize the patients and show them the respect they deserve. After project completion, AAL and IMHM will host a public reception to discuss results of the project and educate on this valuable piece of Indiana history. Further, the results of this project will be published in a local journal and available to the public.


How far can YOUR support go?


Every dollar you donate will go towards funding the student employees and staff doing the GPR survey in the field and processing the data in the AAL laboratory at Ball State University. Not only is your donation helping to discover patients buried at Central State Hospital, but it also provides BSU students with the opportunity to gain archaeological experience in the field and lab. 


Patients of Central State Hospital.


We have provided varying levels of donations to show you how your dollars will be spent, but we are happy to receive gifts of all amounts! 


  • $8 is the average hourly rate for one student employee through the AAL


  • $55 is the cost to GPR survey the area of a standard sized grave (8 feet long and 2 1/2 feet wide)


  • $100 donation is a special donation and is recommended for Hoosiers that love history! When you donate $100, you receive a VIP guest pass to the Project Wrap Up Party that will be held after the project has been completed. You will get a behind-the-scenes look at the project with the team and more! 


  • $148 is a dollar for every year Central State Hospital was operational


  • $250 is the cost to GPR survey a 10x10m (30x30ft) grid, about the size of a two-car garage


  • $500 is the cost to GPR survey a 20x20m (60x60ft) grid, about the size of large family home


Thank you to our partners!


This project could not be possible without Applied Anthropology Laboratories, Indiana Medical History Museum, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Mounted Horse Patrol, and Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.


Want to get INVOLVED?


IMHM Staff Looking through Historic Autopsy Records from the Hospital.


Become an ambassador of this project today and help us reach our goal! As an ambassador, you will be asked to promote our campaign on personal and professional accounts. You will be provided with howtos, tips, and emails on how best to crowdfund so that our project is successful! Contact one of the team members for more information. 

Choose a giving level


Hourly Rate of 1 Archaeologist

Here at AAL, we hire students for our archaeology projects. This provides students with dependable work and great experience for when they graduate. Donate $8, the average hourly rate of one student employee, to our project!


GPR for a Small Grid

For a small 1x1m grid, it will cost about $25 for the field work and processing of the GPR data.


GPR of 1 Grave

The standard area of a grave shaft is 20 sq. feet. This area will cost the AAL approximately $55.00.


VIP Guest at Wrap Up Party

Once our project is completed, we will be hosting a wrap up party for our donors and the public. VIP guests will be provided refreshments and exclusive details of the project before the official presentation begins. Donate today!


Years the Hospital Operated

Central State Hospital was opened for 148 years. This donation pays respect to the almost sesquicentennial operation of the hospital and the staff and patients within.


GPR for a Medium Grid

For a small 10x10m grid, about the size of a two-car garage, it will cost about $250 for the field work and processing of the GPR data.


GPR for a Large Grid

For a standard size, large 20x20m grid, about the size of a large family home, it will cost roughly $500. Donate today!

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