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Bringing recognition and respect to unmarked graves in Rochester

Mt. Hope Cemetery
Evan Dawson
The intersection of Grove Avenue and Fireman's Avenue in Mt. Hope Cemetery. To the right, are unmarked graves.
A smiling man with short dark hair wearing a blue button-down shirt and a grey blazer. He is holding a pair of eyeglasses. The word "Connections" appears on the left side of the photo in vertical letters.

Hundreds of Rochester residents whose lives may be have been lost to history are now being honored.

Many 19th-century residents of the Monroe County Almshouse, Penitentiary, and Insane Asylum are buried in unmarked graves in Highland Park and Mt. Hope Cemetery. It’s possible that you’ve visited these places and not known that hundreds of people’s remains are underfoot. Many of these people suffered from mental illness and faced discrimination during their lives.

Two local professors have teamed up to recognize those men, women, and children and to share their stories. Next week, they will unveil a public memorial in Mt. Hope Cemetery. They join us this hour to discuss their project, what they’ve learned about this neglected piece of local history, and how the lessons of the past inform how we address stigma tied to mental illness today. Our guests:

  • Ryan Thibodeau, Ph.D., professor of psychology at St. John Fisher University
  • Laurence Guttmacher, M.D., professor emeritus in clinical psychiatry and health humanities at the University of Rochester Medical Center
Evan Dawson is the host of "Connections with Evan Dawson." He joined WXXI in January 2014 after working at 13WHAM-TV, where he served as morning news anchor. He was hired as a reporter for 13WHAM-TV in 2003 before being promoted to anchor in 2007.
Megan Mack is the executive producer of "Connections with Evan Dawson" and live/televised engagement programming.