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Katharine Bartlett


Inducted in 2008

Used by permission from the Museum of Northern Arizona

Katharine Bartlett was involved with the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) for sixty years and helped shape it into an internationally recognized museum and research center. She began working at the newly created Museum in 1930 after completing her Masters Degree in Anthropology. She served as the Curator for Anthropology from 1930 to 1953, during a time when women in archaeological professions were relatively rare, then as the Curator of Books and Records from 1953-1975. She established cataloging and preservation guidelines and techniques for the archeological and ethnological specimens being accessioned into the fast growing MNA collections. Her guidelines became a model for others in the state with similar materials. Her breadth of knowledge included diverse are as such as archeology, Hopi and Navajo ethnology, the history of Spanish exploration in the Southwest, and Native American craft arts. She published over 50 articles between 1928 and 1981 and became a major contributor to the literature on Arizona’s native Americans, past and present.


Another enduring contribution was her systematic work with MNA Director Harold Colton on the archeological site survey that documented all site locations by assigning numbers to each site and collecting archeological items that were later catalogued into MNA collections. She worked with Native American artists to preserve their traditional crafts. During the 1950s she and her housemate photographed and recorded historic and pre-historic spots along the Colorado River channel and side canyons. Her research on  Glen Canyon prior to the construction of the Glen Canyon Dam is a legacy  This collection is one of the few extant records of the archeological evidence and stunning beauty of Glen Canyon.


She was a charter member of the Arizona Academy of Science, an organization that stimulates scientific research and education and promotes fraternal relationships among those engaged in scientific work. She was also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the American Anthropological Association and a Fellow of the Society of American Archaeology. She was a charter member of the Arizona Association of University Women and was listed in the 1959 edition of Who’s Who of American Women. In 1984 she was named the first Fellow of the Museum of Northern Arizona. In 1986 she was named a “Daughter of the Desert,” a Smithsonian exhibit highlighting the work of early women anthropologists in the Southwest. She received the prestigious Sharlot Hall Award in 1991 for having made valuable contributions to the understanding and awareness of Arizona and its history.

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