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Site Aims to Demystify Hart Island's Tons of Anonymous Graves

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The Hart Island Project has launched its website that attempts to bring a name, face, and story to the 62,200 people buried in mass graves on the notoriously inaccessible Bronx island since 1980. "It's about lifting these people out of anonymity," Hart Island Project director Melinda Hunt told the Daily News of the site that launched on December 10, "We're creating history through storytelling." The site allows visitors to peruse stories and photographs contributed by family and friends of those buried on the island as well as search plots for their own lost. The project used data obtained through freedom of information requests to begin mapping the locations of some 60,000 bodies.

The website comes at a critical time for the future of the island, as a citywide campaign is mounting to transfer jurisdiction of the island from the Department of Corrections to the Parks Department, which would make it more easily accessible to the public. Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley of Queens has introduced a bill to the city on the matter. A new lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union alleging that the city's policy limiting visitors to the island "violates constitutional rights of due process and religious exercise" is also putting pressure on the issue of making the site accessible to the public.
· Website maps thousands of unmarked mass graves on Hart Island, allows families to upload tributes to loved ones [NYDN]
· [official]
· Effort To Open Hart Island to Public Gets Boost From Lawsuit [Curbed]