13th Annual Cynthia Irwin-Williams Lecture

Every spring Eastern New Mexico University’s Department of Anthropology and Mu Alpha Nu (Anthropology Club) host a lecture series held in honor of Cynthia Irwin-Williams, a past professor of anthropology at ENMU. The event is free and open to the public.This year’s presenter is Dr. Ted Goebel who will be speaking on the topic of peopling of the Americas. Dr. Goebel works in a number of locations such as Siberia, Alaska, California, Oregon, Utah, and Idaho, he also works on a number of different materials collected form archaeological sites such as coprolites, ancient insect remains, and lithic tools. For more information about Dr. Ted Goebel click here.

The lecture will be held on February 24, 2012 at 7:00 pm on the Eastern New Mexico Campus in the Jack Williamson Liberal Arts building (room number is TBA).

Born April 14, 1936 in Denver, Colorado, Cynthia Irwin-Williams developed an early interest in archaeology along with her brother, Henry.  When she was only 12 and her brother 14, both began working part-time at the Department of Archaeology in the Denver Museum of Natural History and formed an association with the curator, Dr. H. Marie Wormington.  These youthful pursuits led to Cynthia’s interest in the Archaic period and to professional publications on the Magic Mountain, Lo Daiska, and Agate Bluff sites around Denver.

Cynthia attended college at a time when women were still expected to be homemakers.  If they did decide to pursue higher education, they definitely were not expected to become archaeologists.  Yet, Cynthia did enroll and graduated form Radcliffe College with B.A. and M.A. degrees in Anthropology in 1957 and 1958, respectively.  In 1963 she received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University. Cynthia once remarked about how she was forced to sit in the hallway during courses at Harvard as one of her professors did not believe that women should be enrolled in archaeology courses!

Cynthia persevered and quickly made her mark as a professional, having a towering grasp over specialties that ranged from archaeology to related aspects of geology, paleontology, climatology, remote sensing, desertification, and desert reclamation.  From 1963-1964 Cynthia lectured at Hunter College in New York,  From 1964-1982 she taught at Eastern New Mexico University and in 1978 she was awarded the Llano Estacado Center for Advanced Professional Studies and Research Distinguished Research Professorship.  Cynthia served as President of the Society for American Archaeology from 1977-1979, only the second woman to hold this position.  In 1982 Cynthia became executive director of the Social Science Center, Desert Research Institute of Reno,Nevada.  From 1988 until her death in 1990, she held the title of Research Professor, Quaternary Science Center, DRI.

A truly remarkable woman, multilingual (English, Spanish, French, Russian), with over 60 publications and 30 years of professional experience, Cynthia is considered to be a role model for women who aspire to scientific careers.  This is why the students of the Anthropology and Applied Archaeology Department have named a lectureship series in honor of Dr. Cynthia Irwin-Williams.

(Biography acquired from ENMU Anthropology Archives)

This entry was posted in Archaeology, Clovis, lithic analysis, Paleoindian and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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