A promotional image for WOUB's "Who Lies Beneath: The Asylum" podcast. The image is of an aged headstone in a grassy graveyard with the podcast's title superimposed over it.

Connecting Names with the Numbers

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In this episode, Cheri Russo and Doug McCabe talk about why people who died at the old Athens Lunatic Asylum and other institutions across the country, and were not claimed by their families, were buried under numbered tombstones with no names or dates on them. They also discuss how McCabe, a retired library archivist, conducted years of research to connect the numbers with names and create a database revealing the life stories of these previously forgotten people. Have a story about a relative who you believe may be buried under a numbered tombstone at an institutional cemetery anywhere in the country? We’d love to hear from you and see if the work done in Athens might lead you to some answers. Email us at