History - In the Beginning

(Excerpted, condensed, and adapted from Raymond H. Thompson, "Anthropology at the University of Arizona, 1893-2005," Journal of the Southwest, Autumn 2005, 47(3): 327-347)

Anthropology at the University of Arizona began in 1915 with the appointment of Byron Cummings as Professor of Archaeology and Director of the Arizona State Museum. He came to Arizona from his position as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Utah. He had received his B.A. from Rutgers University in 1889 and his M.A. there in 1892. Cummings served Utah as Professor of Greek and Latin, Head of the Department of Archaeology, and for many years as Dean of Men and briefly as Dean of the College of Medicine. He played an important role in the life of the University of Utah, even organizing its first football team the first year he was there. The football stadium at Utah is named Cummings Field in his honor.

The 54-year-old Cummings left Utah after 22 years of distinguished service at the oldest university in the Far West to throw in with one of the newest in the West. In 1915, the University of Arizona community consisted of 70 faculty members and 463 students, and there were 24,045 books in the University Library. Arizona had become a state only three years before and the population of Tucson, still the largest city in Arizona, was about 15,000. When Cummings arrived on campus, University President von KleinSmid took him to an overflowing storage area, opened the door, and said something like, "Here's the museum, go to it!"

Cummings was vigorous in responding and quickly made the University of Arizona a center for archaeology. In 1928, three of his students, Clara Lee Fraps (Tanner), Florence M. Hawley (Ellis), and Emil W. Haury, received the first M.A. degrees in archaeology awarded by the University. They all stayed at Arizona as Instructors in Archaeology with academic-year salaries of $1500. Florence eventually entered graduate study at the University of Chicago where she earned her doctorate in 1934, using her excavations at Chetro Ketl in Chaco Canyon for her dissertation. She obtained a position at the University of New Mexico, where she spent 37 years as an inspiring and beloved teacher and continued an active professional life until her death in 1991 at age 84.

Emil stayed at the University for one year to study dendrochronology with A. E. Douglass and then went to Globe to work with Harold S. Gladwin at the Gila Pueblo Archaeological Foundation. He earned a doctorate under Roland B. Dixon at Harvard University in 1934 and returned to the University of Arizona in 1937 to replace Cummings who retired in 1938. Clara Lee remained at the University of Arizona where she inspired and nurtured several generations of students during a full half-century of dedicated service on the faculty of the Department of Anthropology.