Department Timeline

The University of New Mexico celebrated it's 90th Anniversary in 2018.  Below is a timeline of selected events since the inception of the department in 1928:


The Department of Archaeology and Anthropology is founded at UNM by President James Zimmerman, and Dr. Edgar Lee Hewett,  Director of the Museum of New

Mexico, the School of American Research in Santa Fe, and the San Diego Museum of Man is appointed the first Department Chair;

Three courses were offered: General Anthropology, American Archaeology, and Social Anthropology;              

The Department is located on the second story of Hodgin Hall.


The Department awards its first three BA degrees;

The Anthropology Museum is established at UNM, and is the first public museum in Albuquerque; located in Rodey Hall (located on north side of Hodgin Hall).


Archaeological Field Schools held at Chaco Canyon and the Jemez Mountains;

Dr. Florence Hawley Ellis, one of the first female professors of Anthropology in the US, is hired as Assistant Professor;

Department offices located in Scholes Hall (then known as the Administration-Laboratory Building);

Anthropology Museum ethnology and archaeology exhibits in hallway/collections in basement;

The Department of Archaeology and Anthropology is renamed the Anthropology Department.


The UNM Department of Anthropology begins admitting PhD students;

The New Mexico Anthropologist semi-monthly publication is established and printed until 1942.


The Department participates in the Congress of American Archaeology and History, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Adolph F. Bandelier and in connection with the Coronado Cuarto Centennial Celebration


Frank Hibben removes Smith Family totem pole from the Tlowitsis village of Kalugwis and sends it back to UNM, where it stands in front of Scholes Hall


The Southwestern Journal of Anthropology established, edited by Dr. Leslie Spier


The Department awards its first PhD to John Adair for his study of returning World War II veterans at Zuni Pueblo


Dr. Leslie Spier presents the first UNM Annual Research Lecture (Other Department of Anthropology awardees were Lewis Binford, Stanley Newman, Louise Lamphere, Lawrence Straus and Jane Buiskstra)  


Department offices moved to former Student Union Building and space is set up for artifact collections and displays; classes taught in former ballroom could seat up to 600 students.


Dr. J.J. Brody appointed curator of exhibits, the first museum professional at UNM;

Brody worked to receive funding from Dorothy and Gilbert Maxwell to formalize the anthropology museum;

The Anthropology museum starts receiving visitors in the new annex area.


Anthropology Museum Annex completed in former Student Union Building


James Spuhler awarded the first UNM Distinguished Professor of Anthropology;

The department library renamed the Clark Field Library and Archive. (Clark Field, a collector of Native American art, was Dorothy Field Maxwell’s father).


The Leslie Spier Distinguished Professor of Anthropology chair is established and granted to Dr. James Spuhler, and internationally renowned Physical Anthropologist


The Anthropology museum establishes a formal docent program with the aid of the College of Education


The National Parks Service (NPS) and UNM sign an agreement for 10-20 year collaboration on the Chaco Canyon Project


The Physical Anthropology Laboratory established in the Anthropology Museum for research and teaching using human skeletal collections;

The UNM-NPS Chaco Center established in collaboration between the National Parks Service and UNM, directed by Dr. Robert Lister.


Renovation and expansion of the Anthropology Museum completed including a volunteer program running a small gift shop, and reopened as the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology through donations from Dorothy and Gilbert Maxwell, Ed Kennedy, Ethel-Jane Bunting, and matching funds from the National Science Foundation and the State of New Mexico (Dorothy Maxwell was a UNM alumna);

Smith Family Totem Pole is moved to Maxwell Museum courtyard;

The Chaco Canyon NPS/UNM project moves into the second floor of the Anthropology building.


The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology receives its first accreditation from the American Association of Museums;

The Department establishes the Graduate and Undergraduate Committees;

The Department establishes the Undergraduate Honors Program;

The Southwestern Journal of Anthropology renamed the Journal of Anthropological Research.


The Maxwell Museum Osteological Laboratory, directed by Dr. Stan Rhine, enters into agreement with the State Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) to serve as the official forensic science consulting agency and to act as repository for remains from forensic cases


The Office of Contract Archaeology (OCA) established, directed by Frank Broilo;

The UNM Board of Archaeologists was created, comprised of department faculty and established to provide guidance to OCA;

The Maxwell Museum Association is created;

Department is organized into four subfields:  Archaeology, Biological Anthropology, Ethnology and Linguistic Anthropology;

Byron Harvey III donates funds to establish the Harvey Lecture Series, which continued until 1983.


The Department is given the former State Health Laboratory (now Anthropology Annex) for archaeology faculty research/teaching lab space, the Office of Contract Archaeology, the Mimbres Foundation, and the Archaeology Field School


The UNM Department of Anthropology is ranked in the top 10 anthropology programs in the United States by the National Academy of Sciences;

Dr. Alfonso Ortiz receives a five year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the “Genius Award.”


The Department holds its first Departmental Convocation ceremony


Dr. Jane Lancaster founds the journal, Human Nature: A Biosocial, Interdisciplinary Perspective;

Dr. Lawrence Straus is awarded the first Snead-Wertheim Lectureship, a joint award between the Department of Anthropology and the Department of History.


Human Evolutionary Ecology (HEE) becomes the department’s fifth subfield;

The Maxwell Museum becomes administratively independent from the UNM Department of Anthropology under the direction of Dr. Garth Bawden.


The Anthropology Graduate Student Union (AGSU) holds their first annual research symposium;

The Laboratory for Ceramic Analysis is established by Dr. Patricia Crown.


Dr. Lawrence Straus assumes the Editorship of the Journal of Anthropological Research and founds the twice-yearly JAR Distinguished Lecture series


Dr. Straus begins the El Miron Cave Archeological Project in Cantabria, Spain, which would continue its excavation phase until 2013;

The Linguistic Anthropology subfield merges with Ethnology subfield.


The Office of Contract Archaeology (OCA) moves from the Department to the Maxwell Museum as a research division;

Dr.  Louise Lamphere is named President of the American Anthropological Association, and served until 2001.


The National Endowment for the Humanities awards a matching grant jointly to UNM Department of Anthropology and the UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology for the establishment of the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Research, and Dr. Beverly Singer appointed first director;

The Tsimane Life History Project is established in Bolivia under the direction of Dr. Hillard Kaplan.


The Maxwell Center for Anthropological Research is established;

Dr. Keith Basso is awarded the J.I. Staley Prize for his book, Wisdom Sits in Places.


Dr. Frank Hibben leaves UNM $10 million to establish a trust for graduate student education in Anthropology and to build the Hibben Center for Archaeological Research


The Hibben Center for Archaeological Research opens;

The Hibben Trust for Anthropological Research is established to provide funding for graduate study in anthropology;

Department celebrates 75th Anniversary of the founding of the department.


The Anthropological Genetics lab is established under the direction of Dr. Keith Hunley


The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology celebrates its 75th Anniversary;

The Human Evolutionary Ecology subfield merges with Biological Anthropology subfield to form the Evolutionary Anthropology subfield;

The National Park Service Chaco Culture National Historical Park Museum opens in the Hibben Center;

The Chaco Canyon Archaeological Research lab is established under the direction of Dr. Wirt Wills;

The Paleoecology Research lab is established under the direction of Dr. Sherry Nelson.


The Comparative Human and Primate Physiology Center (originally the Hominoid Reproductive Ecology Laboratory) is established under the direction of Dr. Melissa Emery Thompson and Dr. Martin Muller


First UNM Ethnology Field School in Israel/Palestine takes place, co-sponsored by Anthropology and American Studies Departments, and directed by Dr. Les Field and Dr. Alex Lubin


Dr. Jane Lancaster is awarded the Lifetime Career Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions, Human Behavior and Evolution Society;

The Zooarchaeology Lab is established under the direction of Dr. Emily Jones;

The Environmental Archaeology Research lab is established under the direction of Dr. Keith Prufer.


Dr. Louise Lamphere receives the Boas Award from the American Anthropological Association


Dr. Patricia Crown is elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and is awarded the UNM Presidential Award of Distinction;

The Human Family and Evolutionary Demography Lab is established under the direction of Dr. Siobhán Mattison.


The Smith Family Totem Pole is removed from the Maxwell Museum courtyard, brought into the Hibben Center atrium, restored and rededicated by representatives of the Tlowitsis Nation. This project was supported through funding from the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies, the Hibben Trust, and the UNM Office of the President;
Drs. Patricia Crown and Dr. Wirt Wills receive the Field Discovery Award for UNMs long-term research at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon at the Shanghai Archaeological Forum in China;

The State of New Mexico approves the Masters Degree in Museum Studies, an interdisciplinary program under the direction of Dr. Loa P. Traxler.


The Department of Anthropology celebrates the 90th anniversary of its founding at UNM