Archeologist studies 37 tombs under Old North Church.

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The Old North Church in Boston, where two lanterns signaled the departure of British regulars to Lexington, has been immortalized for what happened atop its 277-year-old Medford bricks. But far below, in a dark and dusty crypt where the public rarely visits, the stories of hundreds of early Bostonians have long lay dormant and forgotten.

But now, thanks to the Old North Foundation and the groundbreaking work of a funerary archeologist, those stories are beginning to be resurrected along with a new appreciation of the daily life of young Boston's bustling North End.

Armed with a flashlight, a notebook, and a determination to ignore the shadows and eerie creaking around her, Jane Lyden Rousseau is spending hundreds of hours analyzing the condition and configuration of the crypt. Above ground, she pores over centuries-old ledgers to determine who is buried beneath Boston's oldest standing church, why they were interred there, and what can be learned about early American burial rites.

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