William W. Fitzhugh

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William W. Fitzhugh
Born(1943-02-01)February 1, 1943
New York City, US
ResidenceWashington, D.C.
NationalityAmerican
FieldsArchaeology, Anthropology
InstitutionsNational Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
SpouseLynne Fitzhugh
 
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William W. Fitzhugh
Born(1943-02-01)February 1, 1943
New York City, US
ResidenceWashington, D.C.
NationalityAmerican
FieldsArchaeology, Anthropology
InstitutionsNational Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution
SpouseLynne Fitzhugh

William Wyvill Fitzhugh IV is an American archaeologist and anthropologist who directs the Smithsonian’s Arctic Studies Center and is a Senior Scientist at the National Museum of Natural History. He has conducted archaeological research throughout the circumpolar region investigating cultural responses to climate and environmental change and European contact. He has published numerous books and more than 150 journal articles, and has produced large international exhibitions and popular films. Of particular note are the many exhibition catalogues he has had edited, which make syntheses of scholarly research on these subjects available to visitors to public exhibitions.

Career[edit]

Fitzhugh attended Deerfield Academy and Dartmouth College, where Professor Elmer Harp introduced him to archaeological fieldwork and Inuit studies in the Hudson Bay region of northern Canada. After two years in the U.S. Navy Fitzhugh entered the graduate program at Harvard University, where he received his PhD in anthropology in 1970 focusing on the environmental archaeology and cultural systems of coastal Labrador. Upon graduating, he took a position at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) as Curator of North American Anthropology. In this capacity, and as founder and director of the Arctic Studies Center, he has spent more than forty years studying and publishing on arctic peoples and cultures of northern Canada, Alaska, Siberia, Scandinavia, and Mongolia.

At the beginning of his career, Fitzhugh focused especially on questions of human adaptations to arctic and sub-arctic environmental change. This research focused primarily on the coastal regions of central and northern Labrador, where successive field expeditions documented the full sequence of culture history and settlement and which involved collaborations with other archaeologists, ethnographers, paleoecologists, and geologists. Early on he developed expertise as well in circumpolar archaeology, pursuing and encouraging comparative research from Scandinavia to Alaska. His field research took him from Labrador to Baffin Island and, more recently, the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, in search of evidence of early Inuit-European contacts.

Fitzhugh's interest in the ethnohistoric sources of northern communities inspired many of the major traveling exhibitions he co/initiated at the Smithsonian Institution, including "Inua: Spirit World of the Bering Sea Eskimo" (1980), "Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska" (1988), "Ainu: Spritis of a Northern People" (1999) and "Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga" (2000). The Viking exhibit was featured in a cover story in Time magazine.

Since 2000, Fitzhugh’s research efforts have been directed at investigations of prehistoric Indian and Inuit cultures and European Basque whalers along the Lower North Shore of Quebec near the Labrador border. His interests in the origins of Bering Sea Eskimo culture have also led him to conduct research in northern Russia and Mongolia, where for the past several years he has been investigating reindeer herding along the forest-steppe border between Tuva and Mongolia. His studies of Mongolia’s Bronze Age deer stones have suggested possible connections with Scythian art of Western Asia, and to the east, with East Asian and the early art of the Bering Sea Eskimos.

Arctic Studies Center[edit]

In 1988 Dr. Fitzhugh established the Arctic Studies Center (ASC), the only U.S. government program with a special focus on northern cultural research and education. In keeping with this mandate, the ASC specifically studies northern peoples, exploring history, archaeology, social change and human lifeways across the circumpolar world. ASC is part of the Department of Anthropology in the National Museum of History, a section of the Smithsonian Institution. The Artic Studies Center curates extensive arctic and sub-arctic ethnology collections, the majority of which were acquired between 1858 and 1890 by naturalists from the Mackenzie District, Ungava, Baffin Island, Coppermine, Alaska and Siberia. Research at the Arctic Studies Center both in Washington, DC, and at its division in Anchorage, AK, seeks to bring ASC researchers together with community scholars in the collaborative exploration of the cultural heritage represented in these collections.

Honors[edit]

Dr. Fitzhugh served as Chairman of the Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology from 1975–80 and again in 2002-2005, is an Advisor to the Arctic Research Commission, represents the Smithsonian and arctic social science in various inter-agency councils, served on the Smithsonian Science Commission and holds various other administrative and advisory posts.

Awards[edit]

Exhibits[edit]

Selected publications[edit]

Major books[edit]

Papers[edit]

Films[edit]

External links[edit]