2023 Cynthia Irwin-Williams Lectureship
Born April 14, 1936 in Denver, Colorado, Cynthia Irwin-Williams developed an early interest in archaeology. When she was only 12 and her brother Henry 14, both began working part-time at the Department of Archaeology in the Denver Museum of Natural History. While there, they 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, LoDaiska, and Agate Bluff sites around Denver.
Cynthia attended college at a time when archaeology was a male-dominated field. Yet, she graduated from 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 persevered and quickly made her mark as a professional, having a towering grasp over specialties ranging from archaeology to related aspects of geology, paleontology, climatology, remote sensing, desertification, and desert reclamation. She taught anthropology at Eastern New Mexico University from 1964 to 1982 and in 1978 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 to 1979, only the second woman to hold that 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 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 Eastern New Mexico University Department of Anthropology and Applied Archaeology have named a lectureship series in honor of Dr. Cynthia Irwin-Williams.
The Cynthia Irwin-Williams Lectureship is held annually at Eastern New Mexico University during the spring semester. A noted professional in the field of anthropology visits to make class presentations, meet with students, and give a public lecture in the evening.
For more information about Cynthia Irwin-Williams, check out the article "A Passion for Fieldwork" by Tamara Stewart in the Winter 2007-2008 issue of American Archaeology.
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